I lived kind of dual life with church people. Dual in that I didn’t share about how I didn’t agree with some of their views and I stopped questioning them about how some of the language seemed very judgmental and non-loving. I still stay quiet, it’s just easier. I wasn’t hiding sin, I was trying so hard to live a “holy” life that I became obsessed with my “wrong doing”. I studied people in church and tried to become who I thought I was supposed to be. People and their behavior was very confusing, it never fit. I acknowledge that I made up rules for me to follow but I took all of their words literally. I really lost any sense of self I had during that time. Now I am at a point where the pieces are slowly coming together and I am discovering some parts of me that have always been there but I have hidden.
I am also finding the pieces of me that are new as I grow older.
When I met David I had already come to a point where I was not going to change to find a partner. I was settled on not finding one. I was fine with being me, the me I knew at that point. It was good to start a relationship like that, it wasn’t founded on insecurity because I wasn’t being someone I thought he wanted. I couldn’t accept that someone would want me for me, until I met David. First of all in the past anytime my true self would be exposed it usually wasn’t good, so I learned to only give people little doses of me. I would give the appropriate dose for the appropriate people mixed in with who I thought they wanted.
Secondly, I really didn’t know who I was.
How can you find yourself or even know who you are when you are trying so hard to fit in? When you have had others tell you who you are or should be? The things people would label me with were so confusing at times. When I would obsess about certain people, it would cause me to get sidetracked and fixated on becoming someone who was “right”. I would obsess to try to find myself. If I could figure out what they saw in me and I brought that forth, possibly that was who I was. As my mind would wander thinking about them, I would begin to have anxiety because I knew that I wasn’t completely who they thought I was. I would then feel the need to know what they were doing, when I would see them, why they were not calling when they said they would, would they stop talking to me?
Just all kinds of things.
I did this because I felt like I was losing self, I was creating my identity through their image of me. I wanted those people to live with me, so I could discover who I was. I wanted to be consumed by them so I could know what was right. This is not unique behavior, it is actually what many NT’s do as well, they take on identity of the group and the group moderates what is right and what is wrong. Since I did not naturally do this it felt odd, individualized and my obsessive behaviors seemed extreme. People who are able to adapt to a social situation are able to see what type of people are there and adjust their personality accordingly. I recognize that this does not make them liars, as I thought. I can read people’s true selves, this is different from reading people. A true self is what is actually going on inside, I have discernment for that. I do not have discernment for people’s social self.
I see things in people that are good or bad.
And here lies one of the main reasons why I have such social/relationship confusion. When what I feel/see doesn’t match with what I see/hear it causes me to doubt myself. I doubt my ability to discern motives and people. Because of this doubt I have ended up in controlling relationships and trusting wrong people at times. I have had people tell me over and over again that I was wrong about a certain person, only to discover that their own motives were completely wrong. They were trying to steer my doubts to conform with the group so they could feel “right”. My obsessive behavior and the feeling of needing to be around people stemmed from the fact that I did not feel confident in my ability to know how they felt about me. I would be confused by what I saw and their actions/words were toward me a lot of the time.
I think this has to do with my inability to know who is my friend.
When I care for someone I try to give them everything, this would be one reason why I have had so few cohering relationships. I would try to be completely translucent but I couldn’t because I felt if I was truly exposed that they would leave. It takes a lot of energy to try to find yourself. But it takes huge amounts of energy to expose yourself while trying to keep an identity of being who you think people want. Anytime I stepped out I would see how they did not want the “real me” they wanted the shell of me. My shell had all the great qualities but never showed the bad. When I realized that they only wanted the shell, it brought to life just how fragile that shell was and I would feel like a failure. I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t just be that and I felt like I had done something wrong. I hadn’t taken on the “right” identity.
I would feel that I wasn’t good enough to satisfy the relationship.
The whole purpose of my people consumption was to control my life. People were too unpredictable, they kept things from me, they changed or I would discover things that I never knew about them and it would throw me into a panic. I wasn’t psychotic – I just wanted my life to be predictable and I needed to know who they thought I was. It required me to know the people in my life deeply and regularly, not to manipulate and control them but to help me not have anxiety and panic attacks.
My fitting in method didn’t work.
I could fake it but I was still isolated and alone in my thoughts. I caused people to feel suffocated because of my need to know where they were and what they were doing. I seemed quite insecure and needy which is the opposite of who I am. It’s ironic as I look back that people who made me feel suffocated made me angry. I didn’t want anything to do with “needy and clingy” people. I liked my freedom and being alone. It’s funny how I did similar things but I thought that it was different because my motives were not to control them, unlike those who tried to control me. All these years of trying to fit in haven’t really helped at all. I am more comfortable now with not fitting in. The more I discover about myself the more I see that I cannot fit in without sacrificing and losing myself.
It’s baffling being able to live as a person who is confident in a lot of ways, yet full of anxiety.
For many years I the used the wrong words to describe my feelings. I am feeling released being able to find my words now. I used the wrong scripts to express myself or to try to mix with the group. I felt wrong for liking being alone and I felt wrong for thinking all of my random thoughts. The truth is I still do feel these things. I still feel the sting of rejection. I still feel the isolation as I go out into social settings. The difference now is that I am truly starting to feel alright with it. Does it come with age? Does it come with answers? Does it come with acceptance? I am sure they all play a role in this. I think a lot of it has to do with me realizing that no one ever rejected me. They couldn’t have, they didn’t know me well enough. Really no one can reject us, they can only reject parts and if that is the case what does it matter?
Those who truly care will accept us as a whole.