If you’ve followed this blog at all since late 2014, you’ll have noted that I’m on something of a self-improvement kick. Between going to therapy (including EMDR), and working on my own, I’ve been trying to improve myself as a human being.
Recently, though, things spun out of control, and I’ve been forced to come to terms with a lot of stuff. Stuff that I thought I had pretty well repressed.
As a child who was both abused and neglected, I have the following issues:
- a desire to avoid conflict in my relationships to the point where I will subjugate myself to make things easier
- absolutely no idea how to accept love, while still being capable of loving someone
Thank god I’ve managed to get to a point where I recognize these things about myself, because now I can resolve them. Thank you, therapy! Thank you, therapists!
These particular features about my personality have really fucked-up my life. Curious?
Conflict Avoidance and Self-Subjugation and How It’s Made a Mess of My Love Life
Don’t fight with someone or they’ll leave. And you know what? I can even tell you exactly the moment I learned this1.
In a relationship, I can’t stand up for myself or express what I want or need. Most of my relationships have been obliterated by this lovely trait. Historically, I’ve lent myself to certain abuses. If I’m dating you or married to you, it’s been easy to walk all over me. And that sucks like crazy because I build up anger and resentment over time, it becomes very easy for my partner to lose respect for me while it’s happening, and I can’t voice it because hey, avoid conflict at all costs.
And then I get miserable, angry, hurt, and resentful. And then I leave. And I simply can’t do it anymore. I’m broken.
The problem is that I’ve lost a lot of my identity over the course of this. So now, not only am I broken in the ways mentioned above, I have to re-establish the most fundamental of things: me.
And Then There’s That Issue with Accepting Love
Yeah. Tough stuff. On some level, I’ve never really felt worthy of love, so I try really hard to make the person I love stay with me, at the detriment of my own happiness. I try really hard even when it’s the worst possible thing to be doing. And I’ve done that over and over and over again. And how do you break that cycle? How do you learn to just be loved, when as a child you were taught to depend on yourself for love and comfort, and you have an independent streak a mile wide? How do you just accept that you’re worthy of love? Because for a lot of my life, I haven’t felt that way. And I know that it creates a vicious cycle in a relationship where things spiral out of control, because when you reject someone’s expressions of love, you reject their love, and that builds walls.
So There You Have It
I’m pretty fucking broken. But the good thing is, I recognize that I am broken, and I’ve been laying the groundwork in therapy to unfuck the contents of my head, so that going forward, I can stand up for myself without driving someone away, and I can accept someone being in love with me.
So What’s Next?
Well, the first thing I am working on is me. I’m building a table of things. Right now, I am struggling to remember who I was before this whole recent mess, and I am working to remember all the good things about me that came before now…that’s column one. Column two in my table is going to be the things that are good about me now, because to be sure, there are some good things that have come out of this. And the last column is going to identify the deficiencies where I think I need to expound on what’s not there in either model (“learn to accept love”, among other things). So I’m going to take those three columns and I am going to forge them into a blueprint for a future version of me that I am going to work to make real.
I can be anything I want. I can be strong enough to stand up for myself. And I can be vulnerable enough to be loved. At the same time. And I can be all the things in between that I’ve given up on — being a dreamer, an idealist — and all the things that I always wanted to be.
It’s going to be a hell of an interesting ride.
Image Credits: Unsplash/Creative Commons Zero (CC0).
I was between 2 and 3 years old. I peed in the tub. My dad yanked me out by my arm and beat me pretty badly — ever been slapped on a part of you that’s soaking wet by someone 5-6 times your size? — and I remember being in blinding amounts of pain and crying heavily. Mom started yelling at him, he started yelling back, and made threats to go back to Turkey (he was in the Army). The lesson I learned: People that engage in conflict will cause their loved ones to leave (or threaten to). The lesson I should have learned: my dad was an out-of-control asshole who had zero anger-management and zero self-control.↩