What makes you squirm uncomfortably? Often somewhere in our squirming moments we tend to find ourselves.
Personally I have this issue with helplessness and receiving care; usually because I confuse the two.
If people care for me I think they believe I need their care because I have some flaw, something I can’t handle myself, and they pity me and want to help. It’s a most humiliating feeling.
As a kid I thought the only reason most people cared for me was because I’d lost my mom. I was bullied and my step-mom wasn’t particularly nice to me so when people were nice I assumed it was pity, because so many people weren’t nice to me, meaning I must have some fault. Otherwise, why was I constantly rejected?
I even had this idea my mom hadn’t loved me – she refused hugging me the last time I saw her, then she died without leaving behind any letters left saying she loved me. It was not a good 24 hours of my life. And afterwards there was a huge hole inside of me and I didn’t know how to fill it. Being cared for by someone hurt when you could lose them, so my six year old self thought.
What’s more, my dad always encouraged me to better myself, so on another plane, I had this idea love was related to achievement. The only times I felt love was real was when people said “I love you, but…” Because then I could keep the idea of being flawed. If they seemed to just randomly love me, without pitying me (i.e. they actually seemed to care), I thought them stupid, or blind…take your pick.
Together with some early on rejections on the love front (try having your emotions and rejection trumpeted to a whole school when you’re fifteen – I blushed for a week straight), I’m not very good with emotions. I simply don’t want to confess to having them (not even to myself), because I think they cause trouble.
This has manifested in different ways in my life. First I became shy as I figured it was better being rejected for who I was not, than showing my real me. Then I wanted to change that and ended up always trying to prove my own strength. My can-do attitude. My willingness to perfect myself. My fiercely independent spirit. I feel safe when I’m independent. I feel in charge.
As my principal in drama school would have said, I’ve gone from using one cover (shy) to using another (independent). Being the seeker I am (and being as miserable as I was) I’ve always worked on myself though. I wanted to find happiness and happiness has a lot to do with self-love, loving people and letting them love you back. So I’ve worked on it. And recently what made me realize there’s a way to go is the “being cared for” thing.
When people try to care for me beyond my comfort level three things might happen: I feel suffocated (I can’t accept the care), I feel embarrassed (clearly they think I need help), or I think they’re being ridiculous (i.e. still thinking people blind to the real me). In some cases, I might also question if they’re doing it just to later embarrass me by telling me it wasn’t real (it really was very traumatic being fifteen, OK). If I actually want to receive the care I feel completely helpless because I don’t know how to. This leads to me wanting to be alone so I can feel powerful again and I can turn mean in the process of pushing people away.
Due to this I have had a tendency to fall for aloof men – men I connect with intellectually and/or physically. I don’t have to open up emotionally, because they’re like clams (or well, you know, a little bit clammy at least). They’re never completely into me, which means I don’t truly have to ever lose them. They won’t look after me, so I won’t feel stupid.
When I dated caring men in the past, it was always men I didn’t really have a connection with, so they never got close and I remained safe and aloof.
In a nutshell: the guys I liked didn’t care and the guys who liked me I didn’t care about.
Now, I could blame this on fate, or I could look at the common denominator in all this: me. I choose to look at me.
This year I’ve decided to turn everything in my life on its head, including my emotional life. I will do the things I fear the most. Like opening up socially in the place I call home, instead of waiting to go to places where I feel anonymous and safe. I will professionally go where I’m the most scared to go, because I care the most. I will also only date caring men I care about AND have a connection with. It will probably make me wanna puke, run for my life and feel like a claustrophobic person stuck in an elevator, but I’m determined that the only relationships I will have are soulful ones. In fact, I want everything in my life to be soulful – my work, my home, my kids, my friends…
For so long I’ve wanted to be the person who didn’t care, who didn’t feel, who just went on adventures and ran off with the circus. Well, whilst I do like the adventures and I’d happily join a circus for a while, I’d like to explore caring. Right here, right now. I’d also like to explore being with someone. Someone who would go on adventures with me; near and far. Someone I could create a home with, but also have freedom with. I like being independent, but I don’t like being a fool. And I’ve been a fool for long enough.
Image Source: https://za.pinterest.com/pin/507780926716211533/