Tag Archive: Emotional Issues


So, many years ago, fairly early on in my relationship with my now-wife, when I was trying to figure out if what I was feeling for her was Capital-L Love, I realized something about myself:
Most of my experiences of loving someone else have been deeply tied to the fear that they were going to leave. Insecure-Anxious Attachment Bonds R Us apparently goes deeper than I had thought. My Ghost was my first love relationship where I wasn’t afraid of losing my partner.
Which is not actually a true statement. Because I was afraid of losing her, quite frequently, and wrestled a LOT with fears around not being a good enough domme to keep her service-side happy, not being confident enough (in any arena) to earn her loyalty, not being secure enough, or compersion-y enough, to avoid trying her patience on the polyamoury front. All sorts of stuff.
But I was also fairly confident, on some level, that she would keep coming back.
Because she did keep coming back.
It was a pattern that kept repeating itself, and every time it did, it chipped away at that deep-seated fear, until one day I wasn’t afraid anymore. Not in the generalized fear-of-abandonment way, at any rate.
 
Great, right?
Totally!
 
Except that being free of that particular fear meant that I ran smack into another one, one that I hadn’t expected to even exist, let alone be something I’d have to contend with:
I was suddenly afraid (yep) that, if I wasn’t afraid of losing my partner, there wouldn’t be anything left of the Feelings I was feeling for her. I was shudderingly (and irrationally) terrified that my feelings of love for my partner would evaporate if I wasn’t coding them through the lens of “fear of loss”, and wondering if, were I to stop fearing being without her, would I then just not caer if she never contacted me again? If I wasn’t afraid that she would never come back, would I do the WORK of maintaining the relationship? Would I make phone calls and emails and dates and invitations if I wasn’t afraid of Never Seeing Her Again? And if I relaxed around that stuff… well, if I wasn’t doing it, who would?
Which kind of makes those layered fears into a bit of an Ouroboros, since underneath the fear-of-loss-of-fear is the fear/assumption that I’m the only member of a given diad who is going to put in the maintenance hours on that relationship. Which… is weird, and maybe foolish, and definitely not kind to my partners… and also an accurate representation of most (not all, thank the gods, but most) of my friendships and romances between the ages of ten and thirty, so… maybe not actually strange that I was feeling it.
 
All that being said, when I realized what I was dealing with, I let it go.
I let it go.
With Ghost, I let go of the feeling that I should be a shuddering ball of anxiety every time she went to see her other partner.
That didn’t mean that, as she accumulated more sweethearts, I didn’t routinely go through the same song-and-dance of actual (if unfounded) fear that I would be replaced or pushed to the side-lines. I totally did. But I stopped forcing myself to feel like crap when I didn’t actually feel that way.
 
So, Go Me. I overcame a Thing.
 
You can sense the “But…” lingering, can’t you?
 
Yeah.
 
In a twist that will surprise none of you, I find myself with my (relatively) new partner, going through the same silliness all over again. Tying myself up in knots over the suspicion (mostly my jerk brain talking through its usual scripts) that said partner might not care about me as much as: (a) she says she does / (b) her other partners / (c) I care about her / (d) pick something, I’m sure I’ve worried about it… and then, when faced with the (repeated, from numerous sources, human and otherwise) suggestion that I actually trust my partner (what a concept), running into the fear that, if I do that, if I stop freaking out about whether or not she cares about me… that I won’t care if she stops contacting me or, worse, that I won’t care if she disappears for a while, and then comes back to me.
It’s the same thing all over again. Even though I figured out I loved her ages ago, back before we started dating, when I caught myself thinking “I want you to be happy and safe”, and then realized what that meant. Even knowing what loving her actually feels like, I’m still goddamn dealing with this nonsense about how “Love feels like fear of abandonment. That’s how you know you’re in love”.
 
It’s fucking stupid, is what it is, and it irritates the heck out of me that this is an issue even when I know what love-without-that-fear feels like and can recognize it. But at least I caught it quickly (ish) this time. Here’s hoping that I can build on this knowledge in the new year as I try to stop my “scarcity thinking” on multiple fronts.
 
Wish me luck!
 
 
TTFN,
Ms Syren.

So I read this thing, and also this thing, on the internet.
Relevant quotations (respectively):

I have noticed something important: they often can give, but they can’t receive. They can reach beyond their walls, but their walls don’t let anything in.

I bought into the bullshit that my value was only worth what I could do for other people.

 
Take those words. Couple them with this passage from Cuntext’s Hurt People Hurt People:

Last relationship’s shit fucking this one up good, and most of the time, we don’t get to compost it and we don’t get to take that rich soil and grow something better next time.

 
…And you are going to get an idea of what this post is about.
 
Twenty-five years ago. Twenty-five fucking years ago, that’s a quarter of a century, people! Twenty-five years ago, my brother – in the way of elelven-year-olds looking to find out where their power lies – gave voice to my most deeply and dearly held fear, the metanarrative that has been shaping my life for waaaaaaaaaaaay too damn long.
 

They only like you ‘cause you give them stuff.

 
I believed him.
I believed it.
 
I still believe it.
 
And I have no idea how much having those words said out loud by someone other than me, as though it was obvious to everyone and not just some horrible suspicion I held, made it true – or truer – to my ears, my mind, my heart… But it’s something I’ve been dealing with ever since.
 
It’s more than a bit of a piss-off, I don’t mind telling you.
Because this stuff goes deep and it takes for fucking ever to get through.
 

Linear time is a coercive lie of the white colonial patriarchy and it is fucking all of us up. Growth happens in circles and so does healing. We come back to the same hurt over and over, we come back to the same patterns over and over, and this is not failure, just life.

 
I know that my jerkbrain tells me stories – you know the ones (maybe your jerkbrain tells you the same ones) about how the people who say they love you don’t really love you, how you’re unloveable, unwantable.
And my jerkbrain is reeeeeeeeeeeally good at spotting the signs that it’s right, finding the proof, noticing the patterns that back it up, but completely missing the ones that contradict those stories.
 
I’m getting better at catching it, but I’m a long way from “fixed”, and I fall down my own rabbit holes a lot. Like weekly. Sometimes I can pull myself out of it without letting it show, or without saying anything more than “Brain weasels. I’m dealing with it” and then just dealing with it… And sometimes I need a lot of help.
 
It occurred to me, today, that I’m thinking of my partners – on some level – as though they’re stray cats. They’ll come around as long as I keep feeding them, as long as I don’t try to get too close, too fast, or start expecting them to turn up.
They couldn’t possibly want me because there’s something good about me that they actually like. Oh, no.
 

So I think it is really important […] to acknowledge how hard it can be to receive. Because receiving a gift is risking closeness. […] Each time someone gives you the gift of any kindness—acknowledge the gift, breathe and take it in like a long drink of water. Drink it way, way into your roots like a tree that has lived through a drought. Because it has.

 
I keep a file of text messages from people who love me, saying kind things to me. I keep it so that I can read them when my heart hurts, when I can’t physically remember the last time someone said “I miss you” or “you’re beautiful”. I can open up that file and find examples with fucking date-stamps on them. They’re not wishful thinking. They’re right there.
They help.

Given that “feeling nervous and uncertain” is called “having cold feet”, I doubt that I’m particularly unusual in this, but:
I get super-phsyical reactions to emotional stuff.
Like: My feet are a barometer for my sense of security. If I can feel it, know it in my bones, that I’m safe, loved, wanted, that I have Enough… I am warm-warm-warm, pumping heat out from the core of me, right down to the tips of my usually clammy toes.
When I feel the opposite, though, when I feel afraid, like I’m on perpetual probation, like if I put a foot wrong I’ll be abandoned, swiftly and unceremoniously dumped – whether that’s literal (getting kicked out of my home, getting fired, having one or both of my partners end their relationships with me) or something closer to getting ghosted, reaching for support and finding out that I had fair-weather friends only – my feet, and often my legs up to almost my knees, turn to ice. I’ve given myself frostbite (once) while in a heated building. Yes, there were extenuating circumstances (I have some nerve compression in my back that effects my toes, and the day this happened, it was -51C outside my ground-floor apartment… even if the thermostat said 22C indoors, it didn’t change the fact that my floating floor had been installed over a parking lot without much in between the two), but still. Frostbite?? That was weird, folks. O.O
 
Unsurprisingly, I’m far more used to feeling cold, but in the past… 8-12 months, let’s say, I’ve started really paying attention to it, and noticing how my temperature relates to how I’m feeling. Being warm and being loved, being wanted, safe, secure, and cared for… those are all the same feeling in my body. (Seriously. All that “Fear freezes, Love thaws” stuff from Frozen? Bang. On).
I’m trying to sort out how the connection works. Like, if I’m feeling horrible, if my brain weasels are screaming and they won’t shut up, will making myself hot, good food and wrapping myself in a blanket help? (You’d think but… beyond adressing the basic “Everything Is Awful and I’m Not Okay” stuff? It doesn’t actually do anything. Hm). Can I figure out a way to push heat frommy core into my feet and toes and, if I can do this, is there a corresponding possitive change in how I’m doing emotionally?
 
Part of what has me thinking about this is the recent piece over at Cuntext, where the author writes:

We do not exist without our bodies, we do not exist without our bodies, we do not exist without our bodies. Mind and spirit and body are all parts of each other; body and spirit and mind are the same; same space, same person. Even after all the self-love work in the world, all the cum and sweat and mirror-work, the good loving friendships, and only following aesthetic blogs that feature fat babes, femme babes, dark-skinned babes, disabled babes, trans babes, and learning that not wanting touch or sex or romance is okay, even after all that self-love work, there is still so much in this world that tells us our desire is wrong and so are our bodies.
And so we are crazy. Many of us[3].

And also partially because, honestly, I’m tired of sitting on this nail[1] and, frankly, I spent this morning PMSing[2] like fuck and, consequently, dealing with the same damn Brain Weasels that have plagued me for 20+ years. And I’m really fucking tired of it. That and I don’t want my fears to fuck up my relationships (again) (any more).
 
I’m tired of “having cold feet”.
 
My wife got me a copy of Girl Sex 101 the other day, and I’ve been devouring it,trying to figure out (at 36) (with two partners) how to fucking flirt without either (a) actually getting pushy or being too demanding or putting pressure on my partners to do stuff if they don’t wanna, OR (b) feeling like that’s what I’m doing. (Femme problems…)
 
I spent the afternoon giving myself a tarot reading on the question of “What Do I Need” while, at the same time, reaching out for emotional support to a partner who hasn’t seen much of my insecure side (though I would guess she’s seen more of it than I tell myself I’ve shown her, so…) and spending a shockingly agonizing hour Just Breathing through the waves of fear that she might have ghosted on me when I asked for emotional support[4].
 
Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha has a poem, that is more like an essay, that is a chapter/piece in her memoire Dirty River: “The Opening”. But what if there is nothing more precious than a femme with her legs open?
I am tired of expecting the kick or the curse when (if) I open my legs/hand/heart/arms and ask for something. I’m tired of expecting that, and I’m also tired of projecting that (presumed) impending, casual cruelty onto people who aren’t actually going to hurt me.
 
I gotta tell you, it is a weird fucking feeling to be holding, in one hand, the faaaaaaaaaairly confident certainty that you already know the (affirmative) answer to “Do you still love me” and, holding in the other hand, the really, really deep need to hear her say so out loud, while, down between your frozen feet, are the twin fears of “What if I’m wrong? What if she doesn’t answer me at all?” and “What if, by asking that question at all, you are just being emotionally manipulative? What if you drive her away because you’re too much like her mother/asking too much by asking at all/being passive-agressive, and it triggers the shit out of her?”
I mean, how messed up is that?
 
And yet? Me.
Eugh.
 
But I asked for what I needed.
And I got it.
I got it.
O.O
 
My feet aren’t exactly toasty right now. But I’m doing a lot better than I was.
 
 
Cheers,
Ms Syren.
 
 
[1] Yeah, I read Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking, the other day. that phrase is basically shorthand for “You are going to keep repeating your patterns and making the same mistake until you are actually sick and tired of it and decide to take some steps to change how you deal with stuff.
 
[2] My period’s never been massively regular (except for about a year or two in my very early 20s), but when I get super klutzy/uncoordinated (more than usual) and have a LOT of difficulty getting on top of the shame-rage-grief-fear spiral that lives in my head? It’s a good indicator that I’m about to start bleeding.
 
[3] And also this (relevant…):

Linear time is a coercive lie of the white colonial patriarchy and it is fucking all of us up. Growth happens in circles and so does healing. We come back to the same hurt over and over, we come back to the same patterns over and over, and this is not failure, just life.

 
[4] She hadn’t. And I knew the answer already, anyway. But sometimes I need to her it out loud, just to confirm that I’m not just kidding myself, and given where my head was at, it was not an easy hour.

So Del has a post up called “Sometimes You Just Gotta Open Your Mouth” wherein he talks about a lot of things – primarily mortality – but, at the beginning, specifically about feeling overwhelmed when faced with the blank blogging-page.
I can relate.
There’s a zillion things that I feel like I “should” be blogging about here on Syrens – Bill C36 and its (negative & appalling) effect on sex workers’ rights and safety; Jian Gomeshi and the situation where predators sometimes use an identification as kinky to hide their abusive behaviour; Bill C279, which would protect gender identity under the Canadian Human Rights Act and enshrine it from protection against hate crimes under the Criminal Code as well, and which is currently being held up in the senate by one or more Conservative senators who – apparently – are hoping it’ll die (AGAIN) before being passed, due to another election; … Along with my own growth/struggles/you-name-it around poly, power exhange, and personal sexuality.
So I sat down over waffles this morning and “just opened my mouth” onto a piece of paper. And what came out – surprisingly or otherwise – was another discussion of loneliness.
I often joke to people – my friends, anyone who reads this blog, y’know: people – that I’m “the most monogamous poly person I know”. I admit that I’m starting to wonder if I’m not shooting myself in the poly foot by saying stuff like that. :-\ Between this and the slight possibility of my wife getting yet another person in her romantic life (ye gods…), I wound up thinking about loneliness and how it relates (sort of…) to polyamoury. Basically, I wound up thinking about Fear Of Abandonment and how loneliness makes assholes of us all by messing with our ability to feel empathy, among other things.
Look, I don’t have a study to back this up (though the loneliness stuff I linked to, above, isn’t far off), but I’m developing this theory that Fear Of Abandonment makes people incredibly self-absorbed. I’ve talked about this before, although possibly not on this blog, about how the fear of (and pre-occupation with) What Other People Think of us, and how (not IF, but how) people feel about us can lead us to believing that every little thing is some kind of a referendum on whether So-And-So likes us for real or not.
 
Someone didn’t send a thank-you note after that thing, that time? Clearly this is because They Don’t Really Care about me, and has nothing to do with their work-life being kind of overwhelming at the moment.
 
Someone didn’t text me back immediately? Clearly this is because they’re punishing me [in a really passive-agressive way] for some unknown Thing for-which They Are Going To Leave Me with all haste, and which couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the fact that I texted them while they were on a date, at work, or possibly driving.
 
Someone didn’t come to my birthday party? Clearly this is because They Hate Me and has NOTHING to do with the fact that they’d made plans to do something else six weeks ago, while my party invitation was kind of short-notice.
 
Seriously. Captain Awkward is FULL of stuff like this, so I heartily recommend that you go and read it if you need more examples. But do you see what I mean? Starhawk wrote something – in either Dreaming the Dark or Truth or Dare – about being “King Nothing”, about how being the Most Hated is, in a weird, backwards, upside-down way, kind of like being the Most Loved.
It makes sense.
For those of us who secretly, or not-so-secretly, believe that we are worthless, that we’ll never be worthy of love and kindness, that being wanted isn’t really something we understand as possible… knowing ourselves to be the Lowest Of The Low is, in a way, a chance to be special in some way. Being the “Best Loser” is still being the best something, right?
 
Gawd. Even just writing that down. It feels so self-pitying, so very much an unneccesary (“unneccesary”?) cry for sympathy and attention and what-not, so very, very “poor little rich girl” to be sitting here with my neuroteypical brain that does not pre-emptively re-absorb its serotonin, that doesn’t plague me with disturbing thoughts of how nobody would miss me if I just happened to die on day, y’know, “by accident”, that the people I love would be better off, and happier too, without the burden of my neediness[1] always weighing on them.
And yet I beat myself up – often emotionally, sometimes physically – on really bad days when I’m so overwhelmed with shame that I slap my own face, tear at my hair, claw at my skin, while my Jerk Brain puts on the skin of someone who woould never hurt me like this, and laughs inside my head. While my self-loathing rages and screams at it Are you happy now? Are you happy now? If I hate myself enough, will I be worthy of your crumbs? If I hurt myself enough, will your indifference feel like love??
 
Whew. Yeah. So that’s the inside of my brain for you.
But I was talking about loneliness and how it can make you really self-absorbed.
I wonder if everyone who deals with loneliness, who is afraid of being abandoned, ditched, replaced “as soon as Someone Better (and wouldn’t anyone be better?) comes along”, if we aren’t all secretly carrying around that same horrible, cruel, world-devouring voice that never stops telling you you’re bad, it just changes up the volume periodically.
 
At Unholy Harvest this year, I got to take part in a ritual. It was a really good ritual, and I hope that we get to have another one next year[2]. Part of that ritual involved partnering up and one of you saying “I love myself. I love myself.” and the other acknowledging it, saying “You love yourself”. It was so easy, when my ritual-partner said that she loves herself, to respond with a grin and “I know. You love yourself!”
But I don’t know. Maybe she was faking it just as much as I was, and her confidence and her 1700-lumen smile that actually does light up the room, are just a cover-up for the same loathing and self-directed rage that are gnawing at me all the damn time.
All I know is that when she said “You love yourself” to me, I laughed in that awful “this is actually a living nightmare and I just told a really big lie” kind of way.
 
I have no idea how to like myself better[3]. Every time I see someone make a note of how they’re resolving to treat themselves with as much compassion and care as they treat their friends, I wonder if it would be okay for me to do something like that, or if acting like I’m mean to myself, publically acknowledging that I’m mean to myself (I am mean to myself, and acting like it doesn’t count because I’m not taking a razor to my own arms is… possibly part of how I’m doing it?), if, given that I spend most of my days cooking good home-food, making different kinds of art, going for walks and/or doing yoga, and getting in a number of more-than-occasional hot baths (you know, living the life I actually want and getting to do it in spite of my own income being kind of uncertain?), it isn’t a little bit ridiculous to act like I’m entitled to, I dunno, also believing that I deserve that stuff. Or something.
I don’t know.
I don’t know how to like myself better. But I think I need to.
I think I need to.
 
 
Take care,
Ms Syren.
 
 
[1] … Er… Mostly. I’m not suicidal. Not suicidal thoughts. Not suicidal ideation. DEFINITELY not PLANNING anything. But that “burden of my neediness” thing… That eats at me sometimes. :-\
 
[2] Although heaven and earth know I’m not up to facilitating it at this point… Maybe I can figure something out?
 
[3] And I mean that in the sense of “like myself more” but also in the same sense meant by phrases like “laugh yourself healthy”. Funny how that works out, isn’t it?