“You got this. I got you.”
I received this text last night, mid-conversation, while I was freaking out about something slightly silly to the outside world, but not silly at all to me and the individual I was having the conversation with. The second I read it, my mind went back to a blog post I wrote several months ago about this very line… “I got you”… about the walls people (I) put up.
A month or two ago, if I’d referenced this blog, I would have said “so much has changed since then”. In fact, a month or two ago, I sent messages to a few friends saying things like “what do you do when you try to push people away because you’re so afraid they are going to abandon you and they won’t… well… push”?
It’s an interesting discourse; I want deep, meaningful relationships where I am my true self and the other person is theirs… but when I get that, I am so terrified of getting hurt again that I try to stop it from going any further. And usually it doesn’t… usually with one little push back from me, there’s a rift in the relationship and it doesn’t go any deeper than it is… it doesn’t get more personal than it is.
A few months ago, I was frustrated because I was giving those little pushes; friendships were getting closer and real; I felt vulnerable and afraid. Sometimes the pushes weren’t even that little. I was actively trying to push people out of my life on my terms because they were getting too close to me. And, much to my dismay, it wasn’t working.
This is what I’m like: I withhold my true feelings and frustrations (is it safe to say, even the best of friendships have some conflict or frustrations from time to time) because I am so afraid that expressing myself, my needs, my hurts… the other person will run. Then… when I am totally, totally convinced that the other person will run, I express those feelings and frustrations. Most of the time, even me expressing that there might be conflict is enough for the other person to disappear, despite their best promises stating otherwise. When this method suddenly didn’t work… when this formula presented itself differently… I was at a loss. Me pushing didn’t work. Friends were firmly planted in my life for the first time in forever… And I had no idea what to do with that.
What… a freakin… piss off. I was mad. I was so confused. The entire dynamic of past relationships being so hurtful completely shifted. Everything I’d learned from all the damage and scars and pain seemed null and void. What do I even do with that?
I wrote about this in the blog all those months ago: “Even looking at the past few relationships I’ve started building, I see that I go into them assuming I will be disappointed or hurt very quickly, almost with a sense of dreaded anxiety.” I was convinced then that, regardless of the person or relationship, regardless of what I did or didn’t do… it wasn’t unconditional. It wasn’t forever. It was going to hurt me and cause so much turmoil in the end. It was an invitation for me to experience even more pain in my life.
I was now wavering in this line of thinking. I was as convinced as I have ever been that sometimes, when people said they wouldn’t abandon you or nothing would change if a, b, or c, they were being authentic and truthful. Because I was pushing and they weren’t moving.
So I stopped pushing. I began exploring a new type of friendship and the vulnerability and authenticity that came with it. I felt more free. I felt more honest. I felt more me.
I could end this here. This could end on a totally high, optimistic note.
But alas, humans are humans.
Now. Right now. Right this second… I know very different… again. Nothing is unconditional. Love only goes so far. People will leave. People will lie. People will hurt you.
Now. Right now. Right this second… I am trying to figure out how not to (or whether I should) take the actions of a select few out on the rest of the relationships I’ve begun forging strong bonds with. How not to cut those ties before they inevitably cause the same turmoil.
Now. Right now. Right this second… I am trying to figure out whether the benefits outweigh the costs. Whether the peace then makes up for the anxiety now. Whether opening the door was even worth it if someone takes a look at your messy house and realizes they really don’t love you enough to be in there with you. Whether the time that they stayed and the love you felt then is enough to counteract the inner conflict now.
I’m not very optimistic when I am in the thick of things. I am really bad at looking forward when I’m so torn about what is right behind me. I wish I could end this on an optimistic note, like I normally do… a “hey, check out what I’ve learned in this writing process that’s totally cool”… but I can’t. Not today. Not when my head is buried in this.