Side effects

Just about three months ago, I was on a train to New York having a panic attack (the first and only in my life) because I was so frightened of returning to Barcelona that evening. I was afraid that I would feel even more lonely and full of despair than I already was in the presence of my family who really took care of me for the ten days I was visiting them in Rhode Island.

It is nearly impossible to describe the turnaround I have gone through. I am shocked at how quickly I moved through this sudden and intense pain and got to a stable, and even happy, place. I had to face some serious pain, for sure, but let me tell you – I was ready.

I don’t think I would ever have gotten to this place without the slap in the face from…I don’t know, the Universe?…that I really needed to face this old, old trauma. My previous long term relationship did not trigger any of these abandonment issue with me, which is likely why I was in it, and why I stayed in it so long. (Who am I kidding? That IS the reason I was in it and stayed.)

I have continued with these “healing therapies”, which is the best term I can find for them, and moved through old issues and even discovered others that I was never aware of. Issues my parents carried that I picked up and carried for them as a child, unconsciously of course. I am discovering things I have never been conscious of in my life. It is quite exciting to be honest. They don’t scare me at all though, I am only fascinated by them. Because I have a tool now.

The most interesting thing is that there have been several situations that have shown me how I have changed in other ways too due to this healing I have been doing. For example, a friend was angry with me for unknown reasons (a complete misunderstanding it turned out), sent me a harsh and upsetting message, and refused my calls and did not read my text messages. Normally this would have really upset me and I would have gone to great lengths to contact her and find out what was going on, what the misunderstanding was – anything so she wasn’t upset with me. I would have worried that she would think poorly of me and that I could potentially lose her friendship. I automatically started to go to this place out of habit: I began thinking what I could say to her and how I could get her to talk to me. But in the middle of it, literally 5 minutes into this process, I understood that this was her issue completely, and that it really had nothing to do with me. She would come around if she was going to at all. And I just didn’t need to turn all this over in my head. I was totally OK with it. Not upset, not worried, not bothered. Just fully confident that whatever she was dealing with would resolve itself, or not, but that I wasn’t going to change her perception. And that was it. I did not dwell on it. And a week and half later she contacted me, apologized, and everything was fine, like I knew it would be.

A similar thing happened with my neighbor two days later – he was angry with me and yelled at me and I really didn’t care. I realized I would not change his mind and he would not listen to whatever I said, so I dropped it. I didn’t go home and think about the things I should have said, or what I would say when we met in the building entrance. I could not access that part of me that used to do that. I truly detached from it, to my great surprise.

I am definitely at a somewhat of plateau now in that I am having trouble accessing any painful feelings at all. This is shocking, considering that fewer than three months ago I emotionally felt that I would never, ever get through any of what I was dealing with. Sure, I knew logically that I would, but my emotional body did not believe that. My emotional body felt like I would be annihilated if I let go of that person. Any contact whatsoever, negative or positive, was a relief for me. It was like a drug.

And another side effect is that I find myself attracted to emotionally healthier people. People who are available in every way and who seem to be OK with the absence of an infatuation stage of a love relationship, which is the only thing I have ever experienced. If it wasn’t there I wasn’t interested. But I’m suddenly OK with that being gone, and am learning to relax and see the people I am dating for who they are and not put them into some fantasy version of my own creation.

This is all very new, I don’t even know if any of this will change in a week, a month, or never. I don’t know what to expect at all. But…it continues to be one of the most interesting times in my life!

 

Understanding

I’ve been using some unconventional therapies to get to the bottom of what exactly happened/is happening to me, as I mentioned in my last post. They are working. I will probably share what they are here soon, but I need to get deeper into them and understand how they are working better before I do.

The only way I was able to discover them was because I found some resources that described exactly my intense and overwhelming feelings of loss that were so out of proportion to the reality of the relationship. These resources not only resonated with me by providing scenario after scenario describing my reactions exactly, but also described physiological explanations as to why. Why it so resembled an addiction (because it acts the same way in the brain), including the withdrawal symptoms, and why it should be treated as such.

So in short, this overblown emotional reaction was triggered due to unintegrated attachment trauma. The profound need to stay with a lover/partner is the same drive that a wounded child unconsciously carried throughout childhood. The dire need to be with someone who does not care for us are triggers the devastating feelings that the child’s mind was not able to handle because he/she would be crushed by the reality of being ignored, neglected, betrayed, abandoned, or abused. So this drive gets activated in our mind in our current adult relationships and we are caught in this wildly incongruent longing to be with someone we know is not right for us (guilty as charged).

One way to work with this is to take the focus (projection) off of the other person and go into childhood grief. This is what I have been doing with these therapies I’ve been involved in. When the underlying driver is an attachment injury, then the current intensity has nothing to do with the other adult partner. It has to do with a nervous system that is waking up to a lifetime of being ignored.

I always sort of knew this on some level, and I recognized this in other friends too, but I had no idea how to “fix” it and honestly didn’t try that hard to do so. Until this latest episode. I really hit rock bottom through trying to distract myself from the pain of the rejection from this person. I ended up in a few precarious situations where I met up with random men and even traveled to meet strangers, all in the hopes of finding someone to pull my attention away from the target of my obsession. It just made me sadder and more desperate, but that kept me searching for reasons and relief. Which I seem to have found. It is a process but not nearly as long as years of therapy, and I can happily say that I am out of the pit of despair I fell into.

I still have a long way to go, but I’ve stopped my destructive behaviors and (most of) the distractions and am working really, really hard on releasing the old traumas. I have a feeling this whole thing is going to change my life.

 

One thing seems to be working

I haven’t felt much like writing since I have felt stuck in the same loop until two days ago. Like I said in a previous post, I am trying everything. I am now medicated, which is helping take the panic away. But I have been learning something about this “condition” where I obsess over making a relationship work because the terror of the person leaving literally feels like I will die.

It’s all linked to the past, of course. This is triggering old stuff, which I knew, but what I didn’t know what the chemical reactions going on in the brain that draw me back to this person and the pain, actually.

Perhaps I will write about this soon, when I figure out a little bit more. It’s a little airy fairy, so I am reluctant to post here until I can make more sense of it. But as I said, I am willing to try ANYTHING to get through this, and so I am. I’ve had reiki, sacral cranial therapy (that stirred up some serious shit), seen a psychologist, a psychiatrist…and now done something call quanta freedom healing which is the only thing that seems to have had ANY effect at all. I’ve done it the last two days, and these two days were the first in two months where I have been able to concentrate on anything at all, and in addition, I’ve had moments where I actually believe I can get through this and over this person. I’m not done, clearly. It’s still really, really a struggle to let go and ridiculous that at this point I am still hanging on after all the rejection. But…whereas I could not even imagine letting go (it made me panic), I can imagine it now, and can believe that I can be emotionally independent at some point.

So there is some light at the end of the tunnel.

Slogging forward

I figured I would start to write my progress here, since the whole blog began with this journey six months after JM died and I escaped my life by moving to Spain.

I am doing everything I can to move through this, I want to get through. I know I cannot go around or run away without it eventually catching me and then hitting me with more intensity than ever. Do not want that! I can’t even handle this much.

My sorrow is so displaced. I panic when I think of letting go of this other relationship even though it is clearly over and probably never really was anything real to begin with. The idea is too frightening. It’s as if I need SOMETHING, anything, to mentally fall back on, however delusional. So I am clinging to the last strands of hope with this other relationship while frantically looking for another (I can’t help myself). This is my distraction. Being all alone with nothing is too frightening and too empty feeling.

I truly want to let this go, I want all these feelings for this other person to end, I want to be done with it completely, I want the indifference that he feels. I want my emotions to be in proportion with what is actually happening in my life. But I can’t force it. Maybe this is the catalyst to move me through these emotions. Maybe I am so far removed that I needed something to trigger them, some loss and rejection that really, really hurts to bring them all to the surface.

I sure wish it wasn’t this guy though. I wish it were someone I cared less about. Someone who would let me down more gently, to let it be in part my decision. Either that, or that he would be clear with me that it is totally over and done, instead of leaving me crumbs, so I can delete every bit of him from my life and let go. Because I totally get his indifference. I have and am acting the exact same way with other lovers in my life. I know how little I really think about them and how at first I gave them lots of attention and thought about future plans with them (albeit with far less intensity than I did with this current obsession). And that is what kills me, because I know exactly how little importance I am to him.

I’ve written sooo many paragraphs of what I want to say to him. How I will tell him that I am saying goodbye and these are the reasons. That helps a little. I have actually sent a few of them and he counters with some crumb of hope and I can’t let go. And the worst is that I know he is not for me. Like it wouldn’t last because of being in different stages of life to be honest. For some damn reason I think this is serving a purpose. A terrible, painfully out of proportion purpose.

I feel no different than yesterday. I am fighting contacting him and feel a stab of panic when I see he is online. I know if I wrote something he would respond, I could have a little jolt of dopamine when he pays me some attention. I could prolong the inevitable a little longer.

I’ll cry over this again today, multiple times. This is what the last month has been like. More than a month, because even when we were in contact every day I still had this panicky feeling that he would leave. Because I knew it was wrong, I chose him for a reason. I just don’t quite understand why I am creating this situation again.

Meanwhile, I am trying to put one foot in front of the other to make other things happen in my life. It is hard to concentrate but progress is being made in some areas. I closed on my house sale in Rhode Island and got the place partially ready to rent. I got all my paperwork and switched things into my name. All in a fog, and with zero sense of accomplishment or excitement. A year ago all this would have thrilled me. It all feels empty now, but I will benefit from it and someday maybe I can even feel happy or satisfied with this. So I guess in some areas of my life I am slogging forward.

 

 

 

Free falling

It’s been a couple of months now, and the giddy freedom of being single has worn off and, early as it is, I am looking for some kind of relationship. Well, let me correct that: I was never intentionally looking that I was aware of, but I fell very quickly for someone. Someone inappropriate, of course: Single but emotionally unavailable (though he came on very strong at first), very far away, much younger than me…actually, I was starting to cling to someone else of the EXACT same description (though a less exciting person and thus not nearly as intense) until this guy came along. So it was bound to happen, whether it was with this guy or someone else…

Long story short, after meeting and communicating and lots of future talk and dreaming together, I was revved up about a new and exciting future. Ready for it and ready for it to happen TOMORROW. Then of course came his retreat and my chasing him (which was bound to happen for how fast and furious I was going – I would have done the same had the positions been reversed). And then came lots of anxiety and tears on my part. Lots. Like way, way out of proportion.

Cut to: Me turning into a total, complete emotional wreck. Leaving public situations to go cry. Waking myself up sobbing in the middle of the night. Feeling total, complete despair and fear. Like the rug had completely been pulled out from under me and I have nothing to look forward to and no direction. Feeling totally alone and lost. What does this resemble? Oh yeah. This is triggering everything I went through–or perhaps did not go through–eight years ago today…

So the floodgates have been opened. Evidently because six of the last seven years I have been in a safe relationship. Safe, in that I was somewhat emotionally detached and safe in that I knew he would never, ever leave me. And that let me keep all those emotions and feelings of loss in check.

I am here in Rhode Island with my family. Afraid to return to Barcelona and be alone. Feeling like this will never end, will never lessen in intensity. Dealing with my misplaced feelings of loss because they make more sense this way, pining for and crying over someone else. But if I really think about my sadness over the loss of this potential partner, potential future and new exciting life, I am brought back to the core of where this is all coming from.

I am focused on the near future and the current person that I miss, but I see how I am also reliving my loss of JM eight years ago. There are many parallels, it’s like I am recreating the entire situation anew. I’m now suddenly alone and missing someone I can’t have. My future plans are there no longer. There is nothing keeping me in the place I am living, nothing keeping me anywhere and my interest in everything is forced at the moment, to just keep myself doing things, putting one foot in front of the other, even if it is a circle I am going in. Why would I do this? Why would I recreate the same situation? I don’t yet fully understand.

So I will try to focus on the good things that are coming, or will come out of this:

  • I am forced to reach out to my friends and family, who have been responsive and wonderful. Better than wonderful. I am being shown a lot of love and kindness right now.
  • I am feeling things intensely. I am surprised at how strongly I can feel for another person. I had forgotten. It is now extremely painful, but I’m alive.
  • I started therapy again to work through some of these emotions and physical reactions that are happening to me. Perhaps I will come out the other side more whole. Or a better person, or happier, or something. I don’t know what yet but it can’t be worse.
  • I’ve see that I was looking for someone else to fix this for me, to give me direction. Which I always denied but was exactly what I was doing. So maybe I can try to stop that, or at least step back from that a little.

I am still free falling, I have no idea how or where I will land. But I will eventually. I know that logically, but my insides are not yet convinced.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcoming the old demons

I am single again, and have been plunged back into all the insecurities of being rejected now that I am dating. My relationship was comfortable and felt safe, for many reasons. Suffice it to say that my abandonment issues were never strummed in my last relationship.

I had not felt those old familiar feelings of abandonment for a long time, and since I began dating/meeting others online, there have been many moments of perceived rejection. All those old insecurities are getting triggered once more, either for legitimate reasons or not so legitimate reasons.

But the interesting thing is, while I dread them and they are uncomfortable, I found myself welcoming them. It was as if I had missed them, because they are so familiar to me. They were gone for 6 years and now suddenly they are back and I feel like myself again. It’s a strange sensation, but I realized that I like them on some level.

That’s a new realization for me. I understand more fully why we hang onto addictions and destructive behavior. Logically I understood that yes, we recreate our past traumas to try to solve them (which doesn’t work, in case you were wondering) and that we seek what is similar to what was imprinted onto our psyches as children, no matter how destructive or violent. We seek it because there is comfort with what we know. But this was the first time in my life I have really consciously felt it from all sides, the bad and the good and the missing it and everything.

Here’s to our old familiar demons.

 

Kitty

The following is a frequent occurrence in this house: I enter the bedroom where the boyfriend is visiting with the cat.  He is putting his face close enough that she can bump her head up against his face.

He’s speaking softly in Italian to her, it sounds like he is cooing nice things into kitty’s ears, but upon listening closer, I hear he is speaking insults – calling her a stronza (a piece – as in piece of sh*t), fat, a rufiana (manipulator, like a flirt). Kitty has her eyes half closed. She doesn’t care one bit about the insults – she knows they are true.

She has a visitor who comes to see her every few days, a young male cat who makes his way through the fences and walls in the interior square the many apartment complexes surround. The terraces (patios) are partitioned off to the lower floor apartments in a strange puzzle; some owners have long, skinny terraces (like 100 feet long and 20 feet wide), some have L shaped terraces that the hooked end part is so impractical, people never use it, while others have tiny postage stamp size terraces no more than 8 feet by 4 feet, like us. It seems unfair but it’s been 100 years of negotiation for the interior spaces, so who knows the deals that were arranged.

We have some chicken wire-like stuff up against the 100 year old spiked iron fence that arises from the hip high, crumbling wall surrounding our tiny terrace from the vast expanse of the neighbor’s unused terrace. The visitor–I call him Mr. Cat–jumps up onto the wall and meows for Kitty. She’ll casually make her way over and jump up to sniff him. I’ve cut a hole in the chicken wire so I can feed Mr. Cat, even though I know he has an owner, because he showed up with stitches near his ear one day. The two of them can touch noses though the hole in the fence, though Kitty usually takes swings at him with her paw.

Kitty has no tail–none at all, not even a stump–and this not only leaves her butt exposes but evidently affects her ability to…well, get it all out. Sometimes she leaves presents the size of a Tootsie Roll, or even larger, around the house. But even more charming is that she will ask to get her butt wiped. Yes. She has a certain meow that is not “Feed me”, “Play with me” or “Pet me”, but is “My ass needs attending to”.  When this cry is administered, usually when I am at my desk trying to concentrate, I’ll find a tissue near my desk or  head to the bathroom (Kitty follows, she knows what she needs) and wipe off her business. It’s never bad, she is a clean cat, but sometimes she needs help. So she asks me.

The bedroom door must remain closed at night.  Kitty loves food and is an indoor cat, so doesn’t get as much exercise as she probably needs. Oh, there are forays into the stairwell, practically daily, and she runs up and down the hall (nearly always with the hope of me going to her dish or the refrigerator). But if the bedroom door is left open, she will wake at dawn, find her food dish empty, and head straight for the bedroom where she will alight upon the bed and bat my face until I rise to put food in her dish. Kitty is now too fat, so the bedroom door remains closed.

Sorry Kitty, we need to add ‘maiale‘ to your list of names.