Friday, November 7, 2008

I used to be a Rock/I used to be an Island

I remember once a friend played a song for me. It was the song by Simon and Garfunkle, "I am a Rock...I am an Island." That song used to be an inadvertent theme song for me. It defined my actions. I grew up in a world where you could not trust the people you loved and the people you thought loved you. To trust them with your worries and cares meant you’d be hurt, let down and discarded. I learned then that it was important to never need anyone, to do everything alone and on my own and never, ever let anyone in because there just wasn’t anything worth seeing in there any way.

Those were very sad and lonely days. Oh, I played a good game. There weren’t many who knew who I really was except for those that I did allow to get close…the ones that got so close that I had to run away from. I lived my whole life that way. A martyr of sorts is what I was. Taking on life’s hard knocks and dealing with it all on my own. I was a great success and became a very strong and resourceful woman as a result but I was terribly lonely. I held this belief that if I really needed someone they would reject me and not be there for me. Secretly inside I was so needy because I didn’t know how to fill myself up with joy and happiness so I just went without it. Life was all about responsibility, not what I wanted or needed. I didn’t allow myself to need anyone or anything. I couldn’t. I just didn’t have it in me.

I’m not sure what changed it. When my ex played that song for me and said that song was me and I listened to the words for the first time with my heart wide open, I cried. I cried for a month nearly straight. I was so tired, so lonely, so frustrated and I really wanted to change how I thought. I’d test the other way from time to time with people who weren’t worthy of my trust and I was proven right in my old ways until I realized my actions were right but the people I put my trust in were wrong. Then I decided to figure out why my choices were so off. I spun myself back into childhood and analyzed all that went wrong and realized that I was cheated. I should have had parents I could trust and people who loved and cared for me instead of leaving me mostly to care for myself emotionally. I spent a lot of time with an angry 7 year old inside of me, then a rebellious 14 year old and then a lonely self-destructive 21 year old. I dealt with the pains of these significant ages representing rights of passage. I let the pain and anger of these times hit me squarely in the heart with the full realization that I didn’t ever have what I wanted but I sure did get what I needed…some hard life lessons that turned out for the better.

I look back now and don’t feel so much anger. It has long since been healed and I say to myself “it was what it was.” The people around me did the only things they knew how to do. Addicts are too self-centered to give the love and nurturing a child needs but, my parents…God love them, did the perfect thing for me. They showed me what a parent should be. Sometimes they showed me in the positive but mostly they showed me in the negative. My dad taught me the joys of playing with children. He used to pitch me the baseball, play catch, we’d throw the football, shoot the bb gun at targets in the back yard. I learned the importance of parental participation in such things. Those were some of my best memories. Even my mom did some things right. When I was 12, she would buy girly magazines and markers for me and keep me busy by using the markets to draw makeup on the models in the book, paint their nails and draw new clothes for them. She taught me to draw and have a creative outlet. She was very creative and positive in the old days at moments. I learned the importance of quiet time. She also taught me the way to befriend a child and have silly fun. Those were the good moments that I cherish today. I try to think of those moments when my mind drifts to more recent pain-filled events.

I learned that my whole life I just wanted to please some body so they could see that I was good inside and worth their time and effort, their friendship and their love. I didn’t believe that on my own so needed people to help reinforce that for me. I had some success but mostly failure. I finally, eventually, learned how to fill myself up and make myself happy but I had to start at the beginning by seeing where I learned bad habits and triggers and develop new ways to handle myself in the future. I started to work on healing my old wounds and noticed my relationships improved in many ways although they still ultimately ended with letting people go. Again, I let the wrong people in. I think I’ve grown a bit now. I’m single and dating and being selective in how I date and who I date. I’ve got ones I care for and ones that are just friends. I’m enjoying the process of getting to know people and being very open about who I am…I’m just not looking for a man’s approval of who I am in order to find happiness any more. I’ve learned to be happy on my own and have been presented with unique opportunities to learn more about what is out there.

Someday I want to be ready for the right man but I have to learn more about men, learn more about what it is that I want in a partner and then have experiences to help me truly understand what I want. It’s not easy. My old habits involved finding someone, engaging in reciprocal narcissism, mistaking that for love, committing and then one day waking up and feeling like I’m not in love any more and made a mistake. I don’t want to wake up like that again. I want to find someone that I love truly for who they are and someone not interested in engaging my ego but getting to know me, what goes on inside of me, seeing the world from my perspective, trying to understand me and appreciating me for who I really am. I can spot the difference and know when I’m settling for a Bandaid to fill a temporary need. I’m not ready for a serious relationship at the present and that’s not because I’m scared…I think I’m too at risk of engaging in old habits because I’m very emotional…so, I’m taking my time…spending it where I choose to and getting to know new people. I’m letting them in, being real, being who I am instead of morphing into someone they want me to be. That is such a colossal step for me and I’m proud of myself.

Environmental psychology shaped me intensely and severely clipped my wings a long time ago. After finding much healing, I’m finding my wings returning and I’m learning once again how to fly in relationship matters. It’s difficult and I falter quite a bit still but I keep landing on my feet and remaining open to flight. I’m not jumping into anything for a while but rather just trying to get my bearings, see where I’m flying and if nothing else, my vision is growing acute and I’m very in touch with my emotions. I love that. Life is so much richer outside the mile high steel walls I used to pretend weren’t there and hide behind. I’m not hiding any more. It feels strange and sometimes I don’t know what to do or what to say and in such cases I just don’t force it, I just go with the current and observe. It’s interesting, rewarding and the feelings are amazing. I’m free to choose what I want to do with my life and who I want to spend my time with. I like having choices. I like being open and even when it hurts, I’m mindful that the pain is a necessary part of growth for me.

I know that very soon, I will be ready for love. That is ultimately my goal…to find real love, not reciprocal narcissism, not someone to fill a nebulous need I should fill myself and not someone to carry me. I can carry myself but I’m learning now when it’s okay to lean on someone and the right someone’s to lean on. It’s all progress. I’ve been really screwed up in my thinking about relationships for a very long time. I won’t hold back just because I’ve made mistakes though. I’ll fly. I will. And I’ll love with all of me and I’ll know what real love is from another and I will cherish that. I’m almost ready. I’m so close now. It’s a beautiful thing to see where I’ve been and to see where I am now. My thinking has changed so much. I’m grateful for all the loves I’ve had even though I’ve screwed them up something royal. My past loves introduced me to a me I never really knew. From that perspective, I have absolutely no regrets. I may be judged harshly for my mistakes in love and I suppose that is fair. I’m human and I have made mistakes in my past. But I have learned, or at least I think so.

So, clearly my thoughts tonight deal with romantic love and relationships. I’m readying myself for something I’ve never known before. I feel it’s coming and when it does, I wish to cherish every moment, every breath and every movement of it. Words of advice I have, and take its worth for the paper it’s written on, be real, be who you really are and let your potential mate or existing mate see all of you, the invisible broken arms and legs and all. Take accountability for your faults and foibles. Be proud of who you seem to be. Be honest about how you feel about the ones you are with even if they don’t feel the same way. It doesn’t make you less if your feelings are not returned and you still benefit for having loved to begin with. I’m one who believes that it is love that brings us here. It is love that gives us hope, courage and faith and it is love that will always bring us home.


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