Last June I started to have an unfamiliar feeling of longing. It wasn’t a fleeting feeling, it was a deep in your gut longing. The kind you can’t get rid of no matter what you do to distract yourself. I don’t think or process aloud, instead I spent a few weeks silently trying to understand what I wanted. To protect myself from being overwhelmed with emotion, I reverted to an old behavior and crawled into bed. It’s hard to hurt yourself or anyone else if you are in bed alone.
I miss being crazy. That thought hit me recently when I realized clarity had returned. It was easier when I had blender brain and all the thoughts were scrambled. I was stuck with reality and it was worse than I realized. I have PTSD and Attachment disorder, I have labels and disorders. What a drag.
As I was lying in bed a thought attached itself to the feeling of longing, it popped into my head: I wished someone was holding me. Then the thought came again. It surprised me. The first time, I shrugged it off as weird and fleeting. The second time, I laid there and thought more about it. I tried to remember if I had ever before desired to be held but could not recall. It was years before I could accept a hug from a friend without recoiling and often it still makes me uncomfortable. I’m only comfortable hugging children. The year before I asked my eldest for a hug and then we stared at each other for a few tense moments. My mother started hugging me last year and I want to hug her, so I do, but it feels very unnatural and strange. Now all of a sudden at this age, for no reason at all, I’m longing to be held. What’s happening to me? I miss the way I didn’t feel.
I spent a lot of time thinking about it and thinking about The Year of Anger. The rage, lashing out, my explosions: these feelings were so unfamiliar. It was an unwelcome surprise to those who are used to treating me badly and getting away with it. I’m grateful I’ve avoided jail time and the looney bin by restraining myself to yelling. I reflected a long time about all this emoting. I laughed as I thought to myself if this keeps up I’m going to become a real girl instead of a toy carved out of wood.
The Giant (an ex BF) once told me I was more like a man than a woman because after making love I don’t want to cuddle or be touched; that I just turn on my side and fall asleep immediately. I will lie in bed shivering in winter and even then I will not cuddle; a foot can touch and no more than that. My daughter used to laugh when The Metrosexual (ex BF) would sit close next to me. She’d laugh as I slowly inched away. Eventually I’d reach the end of the sofa and feel so trapped I’d get up to move to the other end, poor man. For ten years, the Cowboy and I sat on separate sofas. How did I convince myself such distance was good?
I went to see Steel Magnolias with a close friend, when it first came out, and when it ended she was bawling. She looked at me and asked how I could watch movies like this and never cry. I shrugged and said something like bad things happen, what’s the point in crying. Maybe what I meant was, what’s the point in feeling?
It took half a century to learn I’ve been shut down for most of my life. It took me by surprise, when the therapist said it on the first visit. I know my normal isn’t normal at all. My fallback mantra, before the Cowboy, was “Men are like buses, if you miss one, there’ll be another one in 10 minutes.” I wouldn’t date men I met in bars or from the workplace. When I moved to Idaho, after he left, I discovered online dating. It was like I built a Greyhound bus depot. I went from sport dating to serial dating and when I realized I was becoming a terminal dater, I stopped.
Twenty years ago a friend with a quirky sense of humor introduced me to another girl and said “This is Doris, she sleeps with her running shoes on.” At the time I laughed because it made me feel very safe, now it’s not funny, now I think I learned to tie my shoes at an early age but never learned how to untie them.
Last February, I had two dates with a very nice, really interesting, handsome man of appropriate age. He had degrees in political science and religion which was like a bonus. It wasn’t until two friends asked me about it, a few weeks later, that I realized he hadn’t called to set the third date. I liked him and was looking forward but remained completely detached. I didn’t want anyone else to get their hopes up, mine weren’t. It’s enough that my friends, Mrs. Aries & Mrs. Attorney were very disappointed. The silent message in my head always was and still is: people don’t mean what they say so it’s best not to get attached, it’s best to remain indifferent. How did the silent words get so loud I didn’t even notice he didn’t call until someone asked a month later? It was like when the 2nd date ended he ceased to exist.
I’ve bombed at relationships for the past decade, purposely crashed and burned. I said the Metrosexual was too young with small children, but the real problem was he was too caring and sensitive. It was dangerous to risk getting attached. He would have been a loss so he had to go in the beginning. The Pilot, the Project Manager and the Giant were arrogant, shallow and selfish. I stayed a year or so until they made “future together” noises. They angered me by exhibiting the contempt familiarity breeds. They were generic men to hang out with when I was bored or lonely, chosen because I could leave them and not feel remorse.
Because they didn’t meet anyone’s needs but their own, I knew I wouldn’t miss them when I left. And I didn’t. Each was easily replaced with another similar man until again the irritation made it not worth the trouble. It’s horrible to admit that I chose men that were as irrelevant to me as I was to them. Though they all did a lot of squealing and trying to make amends, two of the three were married to someone else less than a year after I left. For me to have cared any less, I’d have to be dead. I wasn’t surprised or disappointed, I was indifferent.
Writing about it on a blog is hard. I’d rather read and comment on others’ posts than have people comment on mine. There are people who regularly comment and care, it scares me: people go away or get sick, everyone leaves. It’s easier when you don’t care about the one who leaves because sometimes you don’t even notice they’re gone. I hate it when someone leaves a hole no other person can fill. Sometimes I fret and pray over people I’ll never meet, I guess it’s another form of crazy, that I still need to know they are okay. There are people I want to meet but if I think about it, I shut down.
One day, I called my former sister-in-law just to say hi. It had been 9 years since I spoke to her or the Cowboy’s brother. I wanted to hear her voice for so long. No answer, so I left a message and within 10 minutes she returned my call. It was like we’d spoken the week before. We didn’t talk about how hopeful we all were last time we spoke, didn’t talk about what went wrong. We talked like always, we talked about today. Part of me needed to know that it was real and she and I loved each other. Part of me needed to hear that the Cowboy was okay. I won’t see him again but I need to know he’s okay and happy.
I’m starting to understand how I got this way. I’ve had a lot of time to reflect. With the therapy I’m starting to get a clearer picture. and it’s not pretty. I was lucky that I unraveled into crazy. When the pieces fell into place, there was a lot of safety in having all these feelings come up while I was unwell. I didn’t have to do anything except feel and try to identify the feelings. Desire and longing are unfamiliar feelings, unwelcome dangerous feelings. Fear keeps you on your toes, it keeps you safe. Pollyanna’s get creamed a lot. I got creamed a lot.
I miss being an island. I miss being the Ice Queen. I miss never having hope or expectations because it prevents disappointment. I miss being indifferent because nothing hurts. I was all those nice safe things before the Cowboy came along and loved me. I tried to keep my indifference but something went wrong and I started to feel everything again. I guess once you feel the joy of being loved and cared about it turns on the other feelings too. I miss mutual indifference. It’s so easy when no one cares about anyone else, easy to be a machine.
When I was little my grandmother used to hold me, all of a sudden I miss being held. Now I miss being crazy too. It was easier being a marionette carved out of wood. I was afraid of what would happen if I turned into a real woman. I think it’s too late and I already did. I wish I knew what to do.
The descriptions/titles given to past boyfriends were assigned either by myself or my eldest daughter to help my friends keep track of the passing parade. The family that’s dysfunctional together, detaches together.