Long post warning.
Some of you already know I've been in the gutter for the past few days...I'm really grateful for your support and for helping me stay afloat. The pain and the desolation are still somewhat there, but a tiny bit of my brain has seemed to regain some functioning again and it's been on overload the past few hours with thoughts - I needed to get some out.
Just to set the context briefly, a few days back, to make a long story short, I crossed someone's boundaries (not physical, just emotional i.e. personal space). I got bit. It had also been a week of intensified harassment from my parents so I was basically a tank loaded with gas waiting for a spark to see me blow up in flames - and the spark came alright. Two days of a lot of crying. I guess I had a lot stored up. The fire's died down somewhat, but I got my daily dose of gasoline today again from my parents.
Back to the functioning brain thing...I took a long hard look at myself tonight and realized I was reenacting some of my parents' twisted notions of "love" and "care" onto *some* (hopefully not all) others, with some destructive consequences.
Let me elaborate...
My parents, particularly my mother (and by now it has rubbed off well on my father), had instilled in me throughout the years from early on that "love" and "caring" meant:
- Lecturing, controlling (a.k.a. nagging)
- Dismantling my defenses, reducing me into a position of vulnerability
- Relentless pestering
- Believing they knew what was best
- Violating space and boundaries
- Ignoring my hints of wanting to be left alone
- Blaming me for everything
- Showing unwanted displays of affection, both physical (understatement!) and verbal
- Coercing me into talking, when I didn't want to
- Shaming me once I gave in and admitted to making mistakes, or to my weaknesses
- Reducing/minimizing successes/progress
All of this was based on the presumption that they actually have the *capacity* to love and care, which, by this point, I've learned to accept isn't true.
When I protested against these things, all I got was:
- "It's because we love you."
- "It's because we care about you."
- "Others don't do this because they don't care about you."
- "I'm your parent."
- "We are family; only family tells you things."
And the biggest killer of all: "Don't get so angry."
At an intellectual level, I've by now realized all of these things are wrong, and that they by in large serve to fulfill my parents' own emotional needs rather than uplifting or helping me. Because it sure as hell doesn't. In other words...they needed validation that they were good parents, and *they* weren't the failures...that they were always right, and that they knew everything. Most of all, to *prove* something. I suspect, even, out of a need to sabotage due to some twisted feelings of jealousy/envy.
Anyway, back to the point...a few days ago, I was shocked to realize that I was doing some of the EXACT same things. Well, to be honest, the realization was a few minutes ago, and hence the need to write it out...
The truth is, I *cannot* love and care about someone as naturally as I'd like to. I can't do it for myself; hell, how can I expect to do it genuinely for others if I can't do that? I really have to try hard *learn* it - the right things to do, the right things to say, especially when I know the other person is vulnerable and trusts me. I can sense when that happens and I really value that...but sometimes some messed up neurological pathway gets me thinking, "Awesome he trusts me, I am actually worth something," instead of, "Lift up his spirits, encourage him, ease the pain for him." It simply doesn't come naturally to me, because, well, I rationalize - I never got it from my parents. Or anyone, for that matter, until I hit my 20s. Granted, I have got *tons* of it from MS members, and I'm so damn grateful for every single moment of that (now I'm crying as I type this), but I apparently still haven't internalized all of this positive stuff enough so that I could reciprocate it naturally onto others who I want to see happy and thriving.
Oddly enough, I can sense straight away when someone else is doing this to me - I can sense their emotional apathy - but had been largely unaware that I was doing it (or even capable of doing it). For so long I had been telling myself, hell, I never want to be like my parents - and here I am now, admitting that I was carrying some of the same destructive faults...
I'm admitting a few painful things to myself, now. It may be my ego not being ready to admit it, but I honestly think (and hope) that I don't do this constantly, but at least, I'm aware I *can* do these things:
- I sometimes violate people's emotional space when I'm getting clear hints (deflections, short answers, etc.) that they don't want to talk
- On the flip side, I talk when I don't want to talk, or to people I don't want to talk to
- I tend to tell, not listen
- I manipulate others into feelings of weakness and vulnerability
- I'm *actually* usually very detached and emotionally distant, even though I can fool others sometimes with a well-developed persona
I hope - and only hope - that *maybe* the thing that separates me now above all from my parents is the fact that even in moments of pain, I can admit that I have faults and mistakes. This ties together with elements of narcissism I know I have in me to prevent...well, what's been happening the last few days really, from happening - but that's probably for another thread some other time.
In a nutshell...when it comes to loving and caring for someone - saying the right things, doing the right things - I've got a lot to learn.
"Only the solitary seek the truth, and they break with all those who don't love it sufficiently." - Boris Pasternak, Doctor Zhivago