Monday: part two, why relationships are scary 

I sit across from Bea, hiding my face, as she reads my messy list. I had started the list as a reply to her emailed response to my email about relationships. 

I think I could “rank” all my relationships by depth, though I’ve never tried that. You do that too–you know how Kay always comes up as the deepest relationship? And sometimes we can be aware that a relationship lacks depth, but the vulnerability involved with deepening it can seem like too much and bot worth the effort.

Maybe I’m a weirdo for thinking about these things. It’s just..not exactly some thing I really was aware of before, exactly. I mean, I knew that most people seemed closer somehow than I felt to anyone at all when I was growing up. It’s sick, but Kenny was probably the closest deepest relationship I had— in this weird twisted way. I don’t know. It’s confusing. 

“Mmhmmm. This is what I was telling you about; about trauma bonds. It is confusing. But it is really normal for what you went through. That kind of…that trauma, it creates this complicated bond. Because he wasn’t all mean, or all bad, or all scary. So there are good feeling mixed in there.” I remember her saying something about sexual relationships causing feelings and emotions that I was too young too handle, that that was part of the trauma, but also part of those intense feelings that create this trauma bond. 

I feel sick. I don’t know why I gave her this list. Can I take it back? Maybe that would be worse. I’d decided I was done hiding, that at the very least, if I was afraid to talk about something for fear she will leave me or judge me, then, well, I’m going to tell her that I am afraid to talk about it. And we will talk about talking. I’m tired of hiding. 

A part of me even wants to talk about this; this intense, confusing, twisted, odd connection I have– or had– with Kenny. Not now. I can’t talk now. It’s more than enough that I’ve admitted it. But maybe one day I will write about it and we will talk about it. Intellectually, I want to understand. I need to understand. Because right now, it’s confusing on both a feeling and intellectual level, and I know that I can at least make sense of it all in a logical, rational way. Hopefully. 

Mostly it’s like I existed behind this glass wall, so I couldn’t really connect to anyone. They were there, I was there. But this invisible glass wall was stopping that connection other people seem to get. I faked my way through so much. I mean, I knew how I was supposed to act, supposed to feel. I don’t know. Pretended connections. It’s embarrassing to me now. I was that numb? That cold hearted I had to pretend connections with my friends, family? What was wrong with me? Ugh. And still, now, I can’t do it, can’t handle a connection. I avoid it. I hate this, it seems so stupid, doesn’t it? Like, just stop it, Alice, just stop avoiding and hiding and getting mad and ruining things. But I can’t. I don’t know. Maybe I am just broken. 

“Depersonalization. Or derealization. To be honest, I get them confused. But it’s along the dissociative spectrum. This is protective. A lot of people who experience trauma feel this way. You’ve described it really well….knowing what you should feel, almost feeling it but not, so able to pretend. It’s a form of dissociation,” Bea says. She sounds so matter of fact, like it’s fine, and I’m not a freak. 

I’ve wondered at times if there is really something wrong with me. My deepest fear is that I’m no different than those sociopathic people you read about, with no feelings, no ability to care or make a connection, just an amazing ability to pretend. I’m sometimes terrified I’m like that. I don’t say that, I’m afraid to share that with her, because even though I don’t think that’s true (my feelings are hurt too easily, so I do have feelings) a tiny part of me is afraid to hear confirmation.

“You aren’t cold hearted, you are protecting yourself. You’re afraid. It’s about protection.” Bea continues softly. 

“But why?” I ask. I feel frustrated with myself. I wonder if I sound frustrated. I can’t tell right now. I’m pretty far away in my head. 

“Well….it’s back to that relationship with Kenny. That trauma bond. Someone close hurt you. So good feelings, and closeness get mixed up with fear and hurt.” She explains it as simply as possible, maybe aware that I can’t handle an in depth explanation right now. 

I sigh. Hagrid hasn’t moved from my lap, and I hug him close. 

“You’re really looking at relationships and trying to find answers, to understand. You are doing some really hard work on this right now,” Bea says. She talks about how I’m trying to make sense of where things fit and how relationships fit together. 

I nod, slowly. “But I don’t know what I want with that.” The words sneak out, not even a fully formed thought. I mean that I am unsure if I want deeper relationships, or if I just want to understand why I feel the way I feel, or what exactly my reason is for working on this. 

“That’s okay. I think we can just trust that we are always working towards growth, and that there is a reason things come up. Things come up when they need to. So we trust the process.” Bea says, confident that it’s okay to not have all the answers. 

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8 thoughts on “Monday: part two, why relationships are scary 

  1. I also wanted to say in response to your last post, that I pick at my fingers and cuticles too. A lot. I didn’t realize others did this. I pick until they bleed. I do it without even realizing, until I see blood or feel sharp pain.
    Anyways.. this is very exciting. Exciting to me because you are asking questions and exploring, and letting those questions just hang. It takes a lot of courage to open up space for questions. Great work, Alice. xx

    Like

    • Yes, the picking is apparently not so weird after all. I do it almost on autopilot. Last year, i started keeping silly putty all the house and my car– you can pick the silly putty, and it is an okay substitution. Now, i have been giving myself gel polish manicures, and making sure to get polish on the top edge of my nails. It seems to dull the sharpness of them, and the polish really does last about 2 weeks unless you go to the pool (chlorine peels it off).

      Thank you for being excited about this for me. I’m scared, but surprised with myself, too. Xx

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I felt a bond with Chet and I had been thinking of it the other day, how very weird that seemed. Way back, in my 30’s and/or 40’s. He called from Texas and I leaned on him over something I was going through at the time. And then again in my mid-fifties at my mother’s 85th birthday reunion. I chatted with him, spent time with him as if nothing had happened. I also felt sorry for him.
    Now I don’t have feeling for him at all. Maybe pity for a fucked up life.
    I never had that same ‘bond’ or familiarity with Tom. His original abuse turned into a life of an undercurrent of psychological abuse with no true sorrow. Being touched by evil brings me closer to it, and inexorably aware of it. That’s the bond.

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