http://thoughtcatalog.com/2013/i-dont-know-what-i-mean-to-you/ This is my post rewritten and published by Thought Catalog! Whoo Hoo!
Tag Archives: self-harm
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.
An interesting perspective…you can glean something from it.
I knew someone in high school who was never really nice to me. Even in the moments he was my friend, you could always feel an undercurrent of disdain and mockery. But when you’re 16 and not particularly attractive or well-liked, you take friends where you can get them. I think we could all pick out a few people from our adolescence whose friendships were conditional at best, outright imagined at worst. Though the more acute pains of having a false friend have largely subsided, there are specific instances I can pick out and think about to get that stomach-punch feeling of righteous indignation. There was the time I wasn’t invited to a group outing, the time I was called a nasty name having to do with my cystic acne and rosacea. All in all, though, the slights have faded into as much of a nebulous hum as the rest…
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Creating lasting relationships seems to challenge many people these days, while they are just as adamant as ever that they want to be in one. A committed partnership still seems to be the goal. Many people have written about the changing face of marriage and family. We are seeing people marry later in life than before, wait longer to have children, co-habitat more often and for longer before marriage…etc. Yes, I see this happening too, but I do not want to analyze it as a phenomenon for fun, I want to analyze this trend so I can improve my chances of finding someone who wants to get married and have children about the same time I do in life.
Since I have recently created a new online dating profile, I have had the opportunity to read the descriptions of what single men want in their own words. What a fascinating body of knowledge. To research this would be incredibly interesting! Now, before I continue, I want to acknowledge that I am aware of research that states you cannot determine your compatibility with accuracy based on just reading through online profiles of potential matches. However, I do believe that there are some characteristics that will sway my decision in the direction of not wanting to meet them. I am looking for a partner who wants to be as dedicated to our relationship as I am, desiring a relationship for the same reasons.
At this point in my life, I have realized I am ready and willing to be in a committed relationship, one that I hope could last for life. This has been something I have always wanted for myself, but it was not until maybe two years ago, that I knew I was ready for it. And even then, I did not fully recognize that my partner has to also be truly ready for that as well. This seems incredibly ignorant of me, but no one has talked me through relationships in a way that addresses all these interesting facets.
The advice I have always gotten about love, has always seemed a bit superficial or approximate…never truly on its mark. For example, I have been warned to look out for red-flags, but somehow never received my list of what they all are; I have been warned that the partner who cares the least has the most power, while being encouraged to be vulnerable, to love with my whole heart, but never told that power has no place in a true relationship. Thankfully, I have heard enough advice, enough contradictions, and had my heart broken plenty, so I do not need advice from outside. I have all of the necessary knowledge inside myself.
Some of that previous advice was about how to avoid co-dependency (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Codependency), a big, awful, scary term meaning the state of a relationship where people are not together for love but because their happiness depends on fulfilling the needs of the other or of controlling the other. It is love gone twisted! My last relationship was beginning to take on some co-dependent tendencies…mainly on my part, and I can see how it happens, even to the best of us.
A partnership is about being “co-______”…so if the blank is not dependent, than what is it? “Co-independent?” That sounds pretty nice, but it is not the whole picture either. “Co-creators?” Hmmm…that isn’t awful, but it is more than too. What do you think about the terms, “co-dedicated?” I am liking that one!
After a few failed relationships where I felt like the least powerful, because I cared the most…I started thinking I was asking too much of my partner to love me as much as I loved him. When you are being told to protect yourself because you wear your huge heart on your sleeve, what are you actually being told to do? I just heard, “don’t love so much,” “don’t show him you are that interested.” My reaction: I lowered my standards, giving more people the chance to love me, while I kept loving as hard, as deep as I had done before.
This is not the answer either though. While I kept loving the men in my life with as much enthusiasm as always, I had stopped loving myself enough. Lowering one’s standards is basically admitting you are not deserving of what you want…it is basically self-harm. And hence we come to a state where I am off balance, not grounded in self-love, so it is easy to tip over into co-dependency, where you derive happiness from the other, from the act of loving them, but not from yourself or really from your partner either.
My intention was pure…I wanted to commit myself to a life of love and partnership. My understanding of how to achieve this was been misguided. First, self-love should be maintained and cultivated so one can come to another individual grounded and balanced. There is a sense of stillness and calm that I feel when I describe this sense of being. When you are in a state of still connection with your inner Self…you can then recognize the same sense of self-awareness in another. These are the partners to seek out for a relationship where co-dedication can truly occur.
Past advice has hinted at this, but never sunk home for me. I have been told many times to make sure I can give myself what I need rather than seeking it from others. This has seemed deliberately cryptic! My Mind could not wrap itself around this. Now that I am coming to this truth on my own, I simultaneously marvel at how simple it seems now while also acknowledging that I could not have been convinced to understand this earlier. Perhaps there is a way to address this disconnect in understanding the advice given on love. Somehow all the advice is not helping people truly grasp the concepts until they come to it on their own anyway.
It feels wonderful to finally understand what a relationship should look like, on my part and my partners. My standards have risen once more.
This feels like the tipping point; I was like so many others, all desiring love and relationships, but being so very ignorant of all that it entails….until now. I now see that both people must put in their equal share…of love and dedication, of resources, of time. I am now ready for an equal relationship The profiles I have been reading online often can indicate when someone has also reached this point. They have tipped from being boys who want some girl to love them into men who want to love a woman who loves them.
Maintaining this balanced partnership means living on another tipping point. Relationships must be actively participated in to keep the balance. When one partner starts to refuse to do her share or the other offers to do more than he is required, the balance can tip from co-dedicated to co-dependent. I am beginning to see that by my willingness to love so much and do so much, I forced my partners into a co-dependent role. I took away their opportunity to be equally dedicated. What a humbling epiphany!
Self-love can help us all stay grounded, allowing balance and stillness into our relationships.
You do know you talk to yourself in your mind all the time, right?
Pretty much every one of us has a non-stop stream of thoughts – a mental monologue – that has a powerful impact on how we feel, how we behave, and how we live our lives. Too often, this mental monologue consists of unhelpful thoughts that hinder our happiness and effectiveness.
Which is why it’s time to stop thinking about…