This post ended up being close to 4000 words and still counting … I decided to break it up and give a little summery/disclaimer as well. This is a whole train of thought culminated throughout an almost three year process. I think I mentioned it several months ago, but I cannot find the post where I said I was writing about transitions and how I asked David to be my friend. I needed the “wife” expectations off of me and I wanted to get to know David; feeling safe. I do not feel safe in the context of marriage or a romantic relationship. As I have been blogging I discovered that the root of many of my issues has been social confusion and being utterly perplexed by humans – those I do not know and those closest to me. In my own self-examinations I also found some very key reasons for why I get hurt, confused, frustrated, and tend to isolate myself. This particular thought process contains thoughts and ponderings leading to why I ultimately asked David to “just be my friend” and allow me to heal.
I was in no state of being able to be a “spouse” and I share why at some point of this wordy post.
However, I cannot jump to it right away there are many levels to these thoughts and history that I have had to process through – mainly coming to a greater understanding of manipulation and how people who are deeply hurt or so desperate that they do anything to control their relationships. I have been easily controlled in the past because I did not understand that people manipulated like that. There is no way around it all of us manipulate to some degree, babies do it from the beginning to get what they want or need. Manipulation is not necessarily bad – it becomes a bad thing when you lose yourself — when the person now controls your emotional state. When you feel like you have to have them in order to survive — when you can no longer have an autonomous thought without feeling as if you have done something wrong. That is when manipulation is being used in a harmful destructive manner.
Many people are not even aware that they are doing it because it has been taught to them.
Those forms of manipulation become so ingrained that it is hard to see and it embodies a fear of rejection so intense that it can feel unbearable to even consider changing unhealthy life/mind patterns. David and I decided that we had to take hold of the unhealthy patterns we had been taught and that we created on our own as a means of protection and self-preservation. We decided that we were no longer going to live in a “survival” mindset when it came to our relationship and we ripped open the painful task of revealing to each other our biggest fears, pains, and damaging thoughts to become people who strive at creating healthy life patterns and coping skills first for our children, it obviously has manifested to ourselves into to reaching out and building other healthy relationships. I share all of that so you are aware that everything I share in these next few posts David knows and is completely supportive. We are a team working together for both of us to heal and create a balanced loving relationship.
And now onto the first post …
I have not had many successful relationships. When it comes to romantic relationships, my track record is zero with the exception of my relationship with David, however; I am about to share with you how it has and is transitioning into a healthy relationship. With friendships I have several that I have kept over the years, but as I have written about before I am not really “best friend” material in the sense that I am not willing to sacrifice my time that belongs to my family or my own sanity to keep a friendship that requires too much emotional needs or wants. It is not that I do not want to, I do. As a matter-of-fact that is what I am accustomed to doing and in the process I lose all sense of self and identity. My identity becomes “helping” them or feeding their never-ending need for the “love” drug I like to call it. I am referring to a personality that drains me because they are never satisfied. They only come around when no one else is giving them what they want — their fix.
They get enthused and excited with my directness and how I constantly place the responsibility back onto them to make their own decisions.
However, this too is another reason why I do not keep friends like that for long because I do not satisfy their insatiable need for feeling good. They do not want to change they want to feel better — I am not the person for that. I give no fluff answers and I tend to ask the hard questions seeking the root of the issue instead of whitewashing so they continue in unhealthy patterns. I seek balanced types of relationships myself. I do not want people in my life that will not be a positive influence for growth and change from unhealthy patterns. Yes, there needs to be balance, compassion, and sensitivity in the process, but to me that is a relationship. It hurts sometimes, but the outcome is always a stronger and more stable relationship — not another person’s emotional needs to be fulfilled at the cost of my own emotions. I learned the hard way that those relationships lead me into confusion and depression for various reasons so I set boundaries. That goes for any relationship, family, friends, and yes, spouse.
When I was single, it was much easier to bounce back and go back into being someone’s emotional support.
I had also; succumb to such relationships because I had been taught that my emotions did not matter and that my duty on earth was to ensure that everyone else was happy. I desired peace at all costs (still do, still a huge struggle) so I did what I needed in order to try to keep people calm and stable … thinking that it would help them. You cannot help those who do not want help – once you become the emotional dopamine for an individual you are no longer in a relationship now you are their drug when they need you and when they get their fix they leave — only to return when they are down again. They become your emotional dopamine too! I have encountered this throughout my life with many relationships –- all sorts of relationships from siblings to coworkers. However, throughout the years I continued to fall into it because I have never had a good example of what healthy friendship looked like, parental relationships, romantic relationships, etc … I will interject here and say, with these relationships I think I believed that in some way I was in control.
I was not in control at all because their emotional state determined how I felt, acted, basically lived my life.
It would revolve around them and that my friends is co-dependency. I grew up learning this from various relationships from my parents to boyfriends — the co-dependent, the enabler; although the way I believed it to be was that I was the “supporter.” My instinct is to help people; I thrive when I am in a position to help others. It is a drive that naturally comes out of me. I help in any way I can, physically, emotionally, spiritually, financially, whatever I can do. This part of me has been taken advantage of so often that it led to spirals of deep depression and painful social confusion. When David and I met the familiarity that I felt with him set off red flags, but they were also drowned out because of years of being conformed into co-dependent/enabler type of relationships. I have this instantaneous pull toward those who share this familiarity it is similar with those who are alcoholics and other types of additive wirings.
I will have a knee-jerk reaction to get as far away from them as possible while feeling this strong urge that I need them.
All of this plays a huge role in my past relationships as well as my current ones. In the past, I did not know how to set boundaries or what types of relationships were toxic for me. When I met David I was in a very vulnerable place. I was suffering from severe heartbreak from several relationships that ended. I was separated from my spouse at the time, I had fallen in love as so many describe it to be for the first time (I have yet to feel such intense emotions or connection with another person still, I believe I have sorted out the reasons for this in many ways, much of it has to do with brain chemistry and attractions. Some attractions may feel right, but they may not be the best for either party.) and I was in great turmoil because it was not my spouse at the time! That gnawed at my moral compass and my religious views creating a great depth of self-hatred because I could not stop the attraction and pull toward the person.
My church had accused me of doing things I had not done.
I was voted out by the elders to no longer be allowed to teach Sunday school based on rumors, the person who I loved did not return my affections, and shortly after that I was laid off from my job. (If you have been reading my blog a while, I know I have written about much of this before, but I need to write it out to help all of my thoughts process where I am at currently in my journey.) I had felt abandoned on so many levels and confused because of my own emotions. I was desperately trying to find my place in the world. I got a job being a personnel manager at a temporary agency which was nothing but social interaction and I worked for a boss who was erratic, I became extremely ill, physically I was malnourished because I lacked funds for food. I was also working about 45 to 50 hours a week of constant social interactions via in person, email, phone, and snail mail correspondence. My spare time was spent devoted to worship services, small group, leadership training, prayer meetings, and serving in whatever way I could.
I was single and devoted to the “work of the Lord.”
I was mentally drained, spiritually, emotionally, and physically fatigued. I would literally collapse on my days off or after church. Some weekends I could not move from my couch from pure exhaustion and the need for solitude. After learning more about oxytocin I feel that possibly what happened during that time was that my already depleted levels were drained even more from perceived and real rejection. I lost even more of my trust in myself and the people I had so heavily relied upon to show me love, acceptance, and trust. It confirmed for me that I was unlovable and could trust no one. Love was untrue, unattainable, and not for me, but you know I had come to that conclusion years ago as a child. I did not understand that the “feelings” of love were not the same as actual love. See I struggle with feeling love or knowing when people love me, before the “attack” of rejection came upon me by my community, I had felt accepted and for the first time loved back by many people and even by one person — I had actually felt strong emotional connections between us both. When he too rejected me as a friend and a possible significant other my soul withered.
Being rejected by them was proof that I knew nothing of love and I sure as heck could not understand when someone loved me — ever.
I was very vulnerable when David and I met. However, from his perspective he saw none of this. He shared with me that what saw was a strong confident woman, full of compassion, and direction. He said that I seemed to “glow.” He watched me from afar and felt that I was “out of his league.” Though if you met David with his strong personality it does not seem likely that anyone would intimate him — not many people do. He was right about my confidence and direction; I wanted to be a woman pastor at the time. I wanted to help and serve people as much as possible and I figured, why not as a pastor?” That church, which proved to be one of the most positive experiences in my life encouraged me and were grooming me to be a leader, they never said I could not be a pastor though my mentors did say it would be a bit of a challenge in the U.S. When I left them to move to another state, I encountered so much disillusionment with the community I had been in that the sense of rejection consumed me … Next post leads into some of where David was at during this season of our lives.
I am convinced the glowing part was from the intimate lighting that the worship center had during services.
To understand a little more about our current transition that David and I have both been going through here are some posts I wrote about our relationship back in February 2011 Just Me, Myself and Cats? and The New Journey.