Diapers and Dragons

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

There's a Reason I Listen to Alanis Morissette. And It's Not Because of Her Stellar Fashion Choices.

As much as I love myself (because really, who doesn't?) (love themselves, I mean) (well, or me, because I'm awesome) I also am my own harshest critic. No, really. I may not always let people know just how much I judge myself, but I do. It's far easier for me to see myself in a negative light than in a positive. Thus the self-deprecating humor. You know, make fun of myself before other people do, because then it hurts less? Yeah, I'm special like that.

(You see what I just did? Yep. Slammed myself in a joking way. Jeez, I can't help but do it even when I'm talking about how I do it.)

Sometimes the humor fails me. Then I just get angsty. Let me tell you, it's a real riot walking around with an inner teenager, especially one like mine. My inner teenager is not the bubbly cheerleader who loves trips to the mall and texting all her BFFs about the cute guy she saw at Forever 21. Oh no. Mine dresses in black with black eyeliner and mopes about in the corner and writes dark poetry about the horror of existence in a world of pain and anguish and bubbly cheerleaders.

Okay, fine, I've also been known to hang out at the mall with friends and text BFFs about guys, such as the cute policeman who totally gave me a major break this summer on not having renewed my registration for, oh, seven months; or the hot mechanic who changed my oil and replaced my sway bar links this weekend. But then my inner teenager has to hate ME, so it gets complicated.

I never said I was a simple person. I come with fine print. People just keep forgetting to read my manual.

Heck, I wish I could find my manual. Maybe then I could figure out how to run my own head.

Crap. Where was I going with this post? Oh right! Harshest critic. Angst. Too complicated for my own good. Fun stuff. Not entirely sure why I'm spewing this, but hey. Whatever. You can just stop reading if it's too emo for you.

Except now I'm panicking that you're really leaving my blog because AND THIS IS KIND OF THE WHOLE POINT OF THIS STUPID THING I have abandonment issues. And I've been realizing lately, as I've been navigating the ridiculous self-designed maze of my own mind (map not included), that I have a nasty habit of never fully giving myself to those I love. Deep down, you see, I don't really think I'm good enough to keep people around. So I have to protect myself from the inevitable. Friends, family, significant others, my own children...it doesn't seem to matter who the person is, there is always a part of my heart, a part of ME, that I hold back in reserve. There's always an unwillingness to risk myself fully in a relationship, because in the back of my mind a voice is always whispering They always end up leaving. One way or another, you will lose this person. He or she will leave you, will walk away, will break your heart if you give it all.

It's a sobering realization to have. It also explains certain behaviors. For example, my tendency to NOT write my parents much when they're overseas. Oh, they get my blog, I tell myself (which is a handy excuse these days but doesn't do much to justify the previous thirteen years). My mother will write long, lovely, newsy, satisfying letters that make me feel like she just sat down and had coffee with me. And I will, if she's lucky, write back a paragraph or two. Just the basics. A brief response to specific questions, usually. A quick update on how the boys are doing.

For another example, my ability to disconnect from friends and not even realize that two months have passed since I've seen a person or even necessarily talked to that person on the phone. I just continue to go on through my life, pushing away any sense of missing a connection. If she really wants to talk to me or see me, she'll call me, right?

I have to wonder, too, if I'm capable of loving a man in a way that means forever, 'til death do us part. I haven't done so well so far. And recently I've realized that it's one thing to say I love someone: it's another to give him my heart. Fully, completely, with all the tremendous risk that comes from placing that most delicate part of Self in someone else's hands. I don't think I've ever done that. I'm not sure what it takes to do so, or whether that strength, that willingness to risk so much, is even in me.

Most sobering is the realization that as much as I love my children, there's still a part of me I withhold from them, too. You see, they're going to grow up. And they may not like me very much some day. They may not call. They may not talk to me. They may resent me for choices I've made and have yet to make. They may move far, far away and only come home for the occasional holiday. I will lose them. One way or another, I will lose them: to jobs, to wives, to time.

So I shield a part of myself off from the world. Because if I give myself fully, then every time someone leaves, every time someone walks away or vanishes or drifts off or outright rejects me, there's a piece of my heart that goes with them. And I'm not sure there would be enough left of me to survive.

14 bits of love:

Kathleen said...

I think this all comes down to having had to say good-bye one too many times. Or 100 times too many. Or 1000 times too many.

LoriM said...

Agreed. With both of you. But I also think it's just a human thing.

Arby said...

A few disjointed thoughts:

If you have abandonment issues, you must feel that at some point in your life, someone important to you abandoned you. Who are they? Have you spoken with them about it?

Genesis 2:24 tells us that “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” So, yes, your children will leave you one day, but they won’t be abandoning you. They will be doing what they are supposed to be doing. That is absolutely no reason to withhold part of you from them as they are growing. The more of yourself that you give them the more prepared they will be to make that ordained transition.

You are withholding yourself from others because you don’t find value in yourself? You are withholding yourself from others because you feel the need to protect yourself from rejection? Yet, by withholding yourself from others you guarantee the very failure that you seek to protect yourself from. That vicious circle is a bitch.

My friend, there is no one on this earth who can provide for you the sense of value that you seek. Your self-worth can only come from above. I know that He values you, but I don’t think that you know that yet.

Have you read either of the books that I suggested?

A very wise friend once counseled that if you do not correct the mistakes that caused the failure of your first marriage (relationship), you will make those same mistakes in your next marriage (relationship) and probably end up with the same results.

Hopefully, this makes up for yesterday’s poor response!

Draft Queen said...

Oh. My. Goodness.

First? A random note that there is, in fact, a set of rules that pertain to me. Rules I did not write. And I just found out it wasn't a joke last week. THERE ARE RULES ABOUT ME. That best friend of mine, really knew me better than I know me.

That said, you know how usually we're total opposites?

Not. Here. (Well, entirely. I wouldn't call mine abandonment issues, because I'm usually the one bailing.)

I'm scary good at distancing myself from people. In an instant.

But here's what I learned. I would rather give my heart to someone and have it crushed later on, then always feel that distance. That loneliness. I know that I have someone who is completely worth that risk. While it's far more likely I'd break his heart (again), if he were to break mine I'd have the piece of mind knowing I gave the relationship everything.

Even if it scares the shit out of me. (Actually? Only once in a while.)

michelle said...

I read all the way to the end. I didn't leave. And I'll be back tomorrow.

Monica said...

Funny thing about giving yourself in love...it's the only kind of giving that can actually fill you up instead of diminish you.

And no, I'm not any better at it than anyone else.

How do we get there?

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy said...

It is scary, no doubt about that. But if you stand on the edge, then just do it. For you can't expect people to commit to you, if you won't to them. And what is scary, that is what is good about life. If you live between the limits all the time, risking nothing, then there is nothing to gain.

Oops - sounding a bit preachy there. Sorry. x

mom said...

It's unsettling to think that you have abandonment issues. (Being who I am, I wonder: is it because I left her in church nurseries? at day care in France? sent her to kindergarten? etc. etc.) But, as you know already, this is TRUE: whether I am with you, drinking coffee or whatever, or across the ocean, or just across town, I love you. That never changes. And there is only One Person who can promise that they will never ever even be that far away, the One who said "I will never leave you or forsake you." Hold on to that truth!! I do. I've been realizing that's the very reason we are to remember him by his name: Yahweh. Which means: I AM. I am with you. Always. That's not preaching, just sharing the truth that holds me in its grip too. And yes, everyone will someday move away from me and from you, whether it's because of their life journey to adulthood or on to heaven or just to school or work. But loving with one's whole heart is the only way to real wholeness. (What were those greatest commandments??)

Heidi said...

If you haven't read it, seriously, you need to read "Third Culture Kids" because most of that, if not all of that, is incredibly typical of TCKs.

dad said...

There are times when I wish that the counsel that Bob Newhart gives in his hilarious 5-minute sketch as a psychologist actually worked! STOP IT! Just STOP IT! Well, my dear, I wish it would be that easy. I know that it is not, yet I will agree with Mom. I love you and your Father loves you. Read Psalms 130!

Momzombie said...

I totally get this. But you already know that, don't you?

GingerB said...

Hey now, be nice to yourself. Really.

A Teacher said...

The good news re: the kidlets not liking you:

About 10 years after their first utterance of "I hate you!" they will come back, say they are sorry, and that you were indeed "right" far more than they realized. Or at least that was the interval for me.

Pam Elmore said...

Wow. That was like reading about myself.

Amazing.

I got here via your recipe on Fiddledeedee, but I'll be back.

I like you. A lot.

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