Thursday, July 19, 2012

Unwrapping Part I

Unless you already know me, you likely do not know that I've had a fairly rough upbringing. It is hard to tell sometimes because I have a strongly phlegmatic temperament. For those not in the know, this means that my actual reactions are very slow and reserved. Not in a shy sort of way, but I just process things more internally than it seems (I am an ENFP, though my extroversion is not way higher than my introversion. Thus, the deeper thoughts are rarely revealed while the less serious thoughts are revealed almost immediately in an extroverted fashion). Here's a prime example: I'm likely to say some sort of dry humored quip in response to someone making fun of me, without truly expressing whether or not I was hurt about it. I've even gone as far as feigning hurt to repel the hurt. I likely felt and reacted quickly, internally, but I certainly did not express what went on inside of me. So, here's the deal: I was abused verbally, emotionally, and sometimes physically by my father. However, I did not really fully acknowledge that I had pain from it until many years later. I tend to just pick up and keep going, ignoring the internal issues. I never revealed my less than ideal family structure to anyone for the majority of my life. I went through a lot of changes at the end of my junior year in high school, that made me want to open up. Unfortunately, that lead to a lot of over-sharing on my part. Particularly, when I was in a romantic relationship. I just spewed all the negative, questionable, and bad things about myself (mixed in with good stuff) all at once, at the beginning of the relationship. This is a habit I only really started acknowledging the problem. I never realized I was doing it and did not think it was wrong. After all, the relationship is something where two people are to know each other fully. Marriage is two becoming one. I have approached romantic relationships in a wholly irresponsible way. However, I am learning, and I believe that my time alone will help me get a better grip on these things. I recently broke up with my girlfriend, she initiated. The first night, I was completely devastated. But, I am starting to see it as a blessing, because we were not in a healthy relationship. Well, at least not a wholly healthy relationship. There was a lot of good there, but the bad parts were particularly cancerous. So, here is the biggest lesson I learned in these past couple of months: people are gifts that need to be unwrapped slowly, quite slowly. This feels completely counterintuitive for those of us still in our youth. Hannah once reminded me that I was still young, and she was right. There are plenty of "old soul" aspects about myself and my tastes, but I still can make careless, youthful mistakes. I, we, made plenty of those in our relationship. I won't go into details on her side of things, but our mutual lack of experience, and my apparently false understanding of my previous experiences lead to things moving way too fast and us never getting the chance to enjoy each other--I mean really enjoy each other. Our love was speedy, we enjoyed the countryside like we were in a ferrari instead of on a tandem bike. We were in jets and unable to even make out the beauty in full way. She is, and always will be, an incredible, unique woman; I am an interesting and unique man. There was a ton of potential, but our rapid sharing and the speed of things kind of made things self destruct. There is, of course, no way of telling if things would have turned out completely different; but, the gift of hindsight, has highlighted a lot of what I did wrong. For every good thing we did, there were a host of bad things we did--mostly unknowingly. I still think there is a ton of potential; but, now that it is over, I think it best for me to stay single until I am stable. If we ever meet again and are both in a place to do things well, that'll be great and I'm open to it. But, that cannot be my goal for working on myself. I want to just be healthy in general. I'm, thankfully, in therapy and figuring out a lot about myself. There are plenty of unconscious behaviors I have due to my upbringing. I don't realize they are there, but I think I figured out one of the biggest ones. I figured out why I rush. You see, I often thought I could not do anything right. This effected me,. as I grew older, in a number of ways: stopped taking my schooling seriously, never fully tried, lost my drive, and rushing relationships. Additionally, the duration of most of my relationships was a month or less; so, the tendency to rush was exacerbated. I wasn't even aware of that until now. Thank God for clarity. I thought I could not do anything right because things I did were never considered good when it came to my father's evaluations. It was never just good. I could have handled it better, I think, if the approach had been: "This is really good. But, let's see how we can make it even better," or something in that vein. I may have taken it just as badly, as I am fairly sensitive to criticism, but I think opening with that first statement helps a great deal. Eventually this seeped into how I do things. Additionally, my early life was colored by the fact that my father was in and out of my life--and the fact that most of our interactions felt frightening to me. The former part is the most important here though, he was gone--often. Being a child, I could not completely understand that it was partly work, partly problems with him and Ma, and partly his not wanting to deal with his own problems. I can see these things now, but that is beyond the reach of a child. I am not yet sure how I processed it, but I know I had to be conflicted with how I both loved and was legitimately afraid of him and his reactions. There had to be relief mixed with guilt of that relief and terror. That conflict became buried in my psyche and would manifest itself in odd ways. In relationships, it eventually meant that I would over-share. I mean this in all relationships. I would give away too much of myself too quickly. In my romantic relationships, this meant revealing things that did not need to immediately be revealed. This, I am starting to see, puts a lot of pressure on the relationship. Doing this meant that the person who normally would reveal themselves slowly, do so as quickly as I have; the seriousness of the relationship is ratcheted at an extremely high level, causing worry; and, forcing the party not ready for the seriousness (read: both parties)to blind themselves to certain issues, placing a huge chink in the armor of the new love. To conclude, this is why I vow not to do that again. First of all, it fits my temperament better and drains me less. Second of all, it would put undue pressure on the success or failure of a relationship. Thirdly, both my significant other and I can have the great chance to unwrap each other shortly. A star takes a long time to become what it is. The materials are all there, but the star does not appear immediately. Relationships are a bit like this, and we can only appreciate starlight because the forces of the universe took their time. It is there that I will stop. I'll go into unwrapping more a bit later. Zaire

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