Being really, really honest in intimate relationships has always been hard for me. Not that I lie in day to day interactions, or about what I DO, but rather I suppress what I really feel and have often said something is ‘fine’ when it is really NOT ‘fine’ with me at all.
And then I’d have a drink to make myself feel better. To suppress my dissonant feelings under the surface
Lie’s by omission really, lies about how I ‘feel’, probably because I fear conflict, or I fear that what I feel or think is not valid or important. Sometimes I think I stuff down my unacceptable emotions of anger, resentment or anxiety because I don’t want to appear flawed. There is also an element of ‘I can manage this’ and holding all the problems generated by someone else’s behaviour, rather than putting the responsibility back where it belongs. In the mix is, I think, a fear that what I want will be ignored by those closest to me anyway, so why bother to say it? Why make a big deal out of what I think is important when it will make someone else unhappy / stressed/ uncomfortable? And in turn, their ignoring what I have articulated as important, will make me angry.
I have lived like this all my life. My earliest role models for relationships were exactly like this. My mother asking for something, and my father doing and giving nothing. And I have modelled this in every (intimate) relationship I have ever had.
I never saw my parents argue respectfully about something. I never saw them disagree but my father shift himself to change because it would ease pressure on my mother or reduce her workload. I never saw a ‘partnership’ working. Add to that feeling constantly critisised and never good enough by my primary role model, and no wonder I have / had a very warped sense of what ‘relationships’ are about.
When I say that I have a problem with ‘trust’ this is what I mean. Its very hard (in fact it’s been impossible) for me to trust another person with my true feelings, to believe that that person
could will love me however flawed and imperfect I am. However unacceptable my emotion or reaction. somewhere inside I feel that any affection that people have for me is conditional, Conditional on my helping them, behaving well, meeting their expectations, not having unacceptable feelings or responses. Conditional on my respecting their wishes and feelings, conditional on ‘being GOOD’
I think this relates back to the whole self esteem thing. If you feel fundamentally unlovable then it’s a natural extension to try and present a front that will be acceptable and lovable. When taken too far – as I have done, it becomes a huge toxic mess where the ‘real feelings’ are suppressed beneath a veneer of ‘niceness’ whilst underneath, with no space to escape, the real feelings of being taken advantage of, or resentment, or anger and frustration seethe away.
This is one of the areas where therapy helps. It is a small space in a hectic world where I CAN just be me, where I don’t feel judged or critisised, where I can voice ‘unacceptable’ feelings and thoughts and have then accepted as mine. Through this process I hope I can learn that my feelings are just what they are, that they are neither right nor wrong , but just part of me. Through it I hope I can learn that I am no more and no less flawed than anyone else, and that what I feel and want and need has as much validity as what anyone else feels or wants or needs. I hope that I will learn (have learned? am learning?) is that suppression of my own wishes does not lead to calmer waters, but rather to a specific kind of hell for me, where my true self is ignored, overlooked and subjugated to the stronger will of others. That in this place, where I DON’T COUNT, there can be no happiness or peace for me, because I’m not even asking for what I want.
And that doesn’t work long term. It just doesn’t. Because how ever much I try to deny what I want, I still want it. However much I tell myself that ‘It doesnt matter’, It really does. And the wants don’t go away, they just fester and burrow through relationships like woodworm, leaving a crumbling damaged facade that supports nothing.
It was not wrong to want a husband who did not take drugs. It was not wrong to want a partner who could support himself. These things are ok to want, they are ok to need and they are even ok to insist upon. What would have happened had I insisted on them from the start ?
One of the barriers to real intimacy is honesty, amongst other things this means the willingness and capacity to be truly honest about what you want / need from a partner. To be accepted for who you really are, someone has to know who you really are, and in order for that to happen you (I) would have to SAY it (as no-one is a mindreader).
There are a thousand more thoughts I have about this right now. It feels like a very important thought process that I’m just grasping the edges of… a start to rebuilding from the bottom up. If I could believe that I have a right to think / feel as I actually DO… then I think everything could be changed …