I’ve been telling everyone on my weekends to stop trying to ‘get beyond’ their unwanted behaviours, to stop having an agenda to get rid of their most seemingly shameful characters and less attractive aspects of themselves, but to welcome them and love them as if they’re never going away. The actions we take to ‘heal’ them can often come from a place of wanting those parts of ourselves to leave and never come back. It’s ironic because we spend so much time hoping no one will ever abandon us but then abandon our own selves whenever we decide that these uncomfortable feelings are ‘not ok for us to feel’ and so take steps to eradicate them. It can be a thin line between healing and self-rejection.
I have such non-acceptance of the needy, ‘terrified of being unwanted’ part of me, the one that’s so fearful around being abandoned and often gets into an instant trauma reaction whenever I interpret or translate something my partner has innocently said as meaning “you don’t care if I’m around or not, you are ambivalent to me”. The belief or story I then tell myself that ‘I don’t matter’, ‘I am irrelevant’, ‘I am not wanted’ rushes up and feels so painful in me – so true in that moment – that I launch into a strategy of indirectly pressuring her to say something to cancel it out. I project on to her that ’she doesn’t love me enough’ when that particular pain and fear rushes up in me and end up creating that very reaction of her taking distance from my whining, needing space from me wishing that she was somehow different from how she is. I get threatened by her independence sometimes. When I do this I end up trying to use her to feel more secure, often tiring her out in a very unsexy way and worse, delivering her the very feeling of being unwanted that I’m desperately trying to avoid instead of simply owning my pain and asking for support.
When this happened yesterday I felt so ashamed and frustrated with this part of me that the idea, that I keep recommending to my workshoppers, of welcoming it and accepting it felt far, far away. Annoyingly, it’s the very time when this character needs me the most, when he’s most activated and in pain and has made a terrible mess that is the absolute hardest time for me to be accepting of him and caring, instead of shaming and rejecting him.
Now that the surge of pain has died down I see how upsetting it must feel to be told by me “I wish you were more like this” – and for her to feel abandoned for just being herself in that moment. Ouch! When I’m not responsibly showing up to say ‘I’m triggered’ but instead trying to argue with her about how she expressed something to me, I am basically attempting to use her for something ‘Jamie needs’ instead of loving her for who she is – and then on top of that drawing her into an hour long exchange where she feels she needs to defend and explain herself leaving her both unmet and even more tired…I wish I had reigned it in quicker when it arose in me.
She rightly challenges me with ‘why would you not want me to be content having a great time without you?’ I of course, in my truth, do want that for her. Is there a base level fear that if she has a great time without me it will speed my inevitable abandonment? Why do I need to feel needed? Even though I’ve made big steps of healing in this and my batting average of not unconsciously slipping into this mode has got better, when I get triggered, sometimes with alarmingly little provocation, it can still take me up to an hour or more to be responsible, and a lot of damage can be done in that time. If I notice the same man ‘liking’ three of her facebook posts in a row, suddenly I am worried that I’m doomed, trawling for trouble in the self-deception that I’m trying to keep ‘Jamie’ safe – so self sabotaging!
There’s a 15 yr old Jamie who lives in me still carrying the dejection of walking home alone from the pub that he was too young to be allowed into when all his friends were inside having fun not needing him or remembering him as he trudged home to spend Saturday night by himself – and there’s an even earlier Jamie who felt this loneliness at being left behind and unwanted in his childhood. It likely goes back even further, but the self-caring truth is that this little terrified lad that lives in me needs the adult ‘me’ to actively create the reality he needs, be willing to feel his feelings with him, and while asking for support from others, to be vulnerable and not expect anyone else to deliver the feeling of ‘core nourishment’ for him. It’s too much responsibility to hand over the job of ‘make sure I never feel insecure’ to someone else. Even with my full life of kids and workshops and friendships and creating art when I’m apart from her, at the time that I slip up I almost feel like I’ve made zero progress in this. So once again I’m practicing self forgiveness and requesting hers.
‘If only neediness and begging were attractive qualities.’ Woody Allen