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What If the Thing You Think Saves You, Is Actually the Thing that has Been Killing You All Along?

Seriously, I just wake up with thought like this...every day. I know, I know. What the fuck?

I used to have this reaction whenever someone got close to me.  Like this visceral, gut level feeling that I HAD to get away.  And this only seemed to happen with people who were good to me, who loved me, who wanted to be near me and tended to treat me well.

Back in the day, I labeled it “disinterest” or “not the right fit” or “not my type”.  It had lots of names.  Mostly male.  

I always thought this very intense emotional reaction was due to me having really strong feelings about what was good for me.  Like I was protecting myself from harm by these strong feelings coming to the surface and demanding that I take immediate and swift action to remove myself from the entanglement with this person.  I always thought this intense feeling of “get the fuck away from me” was protective.  It is embarrassing that it was only this morning upon awakening that I realized that it was protective but it was protective as a trauma response...not because I was really reacting to what was currently happening in my life.

It hit me like a ton of bricks this morning.  And that is not a pleasant feeling. Like I woke up, stumbled and fumbled to get my coffee, petted the cat and then found my way back to bed to allow the contents of my head to spill out and onto the screen.  And here is what you get.

And as I was writing all the things I am grateful for, the daily inventory of my lesser and greater defects and praying, it came to me that this magnificent push away that I do when I feel like the intimacy of the encounter is going to pull me under once and for all, has always and forever been simply a traumatic response to childhood trauma that despite years and years of therapy remains.

All this time I thought I had my own back, and just this morning I realize that I haven’t so much had my own back, as I have just been acting out a traumatic response over and over again and always calling it self care.

I have forever prided myself on being able to extricate myself from the perils of intimate encounters that do not serve me.  It has taken years to see that these encounters were almost nothing more and severely lacking in real intimacy.  What I could tolerate as intimacy was really quite a far cry from actually being intimate.

And while I was intensely running from those that perhaps I shouldn't, I was similarly running toward those that I should not. I can see now that I had it backwards. I moved away from people who were safe, to people who would only reinforce all these old ideas I had about my own worth. I called my behaviors self care, but they were really just my habit of removing the good and replacing it with the familiar.

So as I began the practice this morning, this writing practice I do daily, it came to me that maybe, just maybe, this soul deep need to amputate the relationship, to cauterize myself and them, and then move on as if the relation never existed was protective for sure. But it was never an avenue of self care that was really going to bring me closer to anyone.  This practice defied examination and insisted that the only way to feel safe was to get away, far away from that which felt so threatening.

And so I did.  Every.  Single. Time.

This morning, however, this whole idea and thought process, these collections of behaviors designed to pull people (men most especially) into my orbit then push them away was really only a quite primitive defense mechanism.

So I realize that all this time I thought I was taking care of me, I was really only creating situations repeatedly where I could just re-enact my traumatic responses...forever.

And the only way that I was able to remain was to select men to remain with who told me in no uncertain terms either through their language, but mostly their behavior, that the end was present in the beginning.  They were the only ones safe to love because I knew that they would never really ask too much from me, and the exit was always illuminated for hasty departures.

But today I thought about this whole ordeal differently.  What if it has been my insistence that me leaving, with and without good cause, has been the thing that I thought was saving me, when in fact, it has been the thing that kills my chances at intimacy every damn time?

Perhaps instead of selecting men who will let me down or never show up or be so self involved that I matter in word only, I might develop some resiliency for actual intimacy where I could own the trauma that caused all of this and continue to seek professional help to manage the way this particular trauma keeps whack-a-moleing its presence in my life.

I thought I was caring for me, but really I was just setting up repeated situations for me to perpetuate my traumatic responses...and I seriously was the last one to know.

And this whole awakening I had this morning demonstrates to me that I continue to be my own worst enemy AND all the me’s that exist in my head seem to be coming to some sort of cease fire agreement, some accord where we can all tolerate the very uncomfortable feelings intimacy of any kind brings up in us.  And see that perhaps, just maybe, there is another way of being that might result in some different outcomes.

I am not ready to test the waters with an actual relationship.  No I am still healing from the last one.  My love and care and concern sometimes feels like it wants to drown me.  I miss him, I miss the us that was happy and in love and all the good times.  I had occasion recently to review all my photos from the last three years and seeing him and I together in the happy, loving times really killed me.  It was so painful to still love him and care about him and not be able to be with him.

But there is no happy ending there for us.  Just more pain for us both.  And that is something that I never wanted for either of us.  So I find acceptance in the decisional absence.  The love continues but the contact cannot.  I am not in charge of when I stop loving someone.  But I must be in charge of when I stop engaging in patterns of behavior that maim all concerned.

I have habitually thought that these intense and intrinsic emotional reactions in me were my salvation.  And today, I can see that perhaps at one time they were.  But now, they only serve to block me, and you, and forward progress that could possibly lead me to some new relational horizon.  Again.  Still.

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