Motivations

I find examining the motivation behind why I feel or act as I do very interesting. Its also pretty useful in helping me understand some of the feelings that I have, when I can’t regard them as logical.

Since I have been sober, I’ve done a LOT less things on impulse; still some things (like the very beautiful sculpture I bought on instinct on last year’s holiday) but much less. I generally pause, get less carried away by emotions and employ a cooler more rational and analytical thought process. In general I think this is a good thing, but occasionally I still do things impulsively – I guess the habits of a lifetime are hard to modify.

Since Christmas I have sent two emails to my ex Partner.

The first, sent on an impulse, was the photograph of me paragliding, far above the Himalayas. The second, which I sent last Friday was a considered gesture – I heard via my mother who does voluntary work at the local hospital that his mother has a possible serious diagnosis. Being an only child, whose father is dead and estranged from his son and somewhat from his daughter, he and his mother are close. I know that any such diagnosis would be devastating and frightening for him. I considered whether I should acknowledge this, and in the end sent a short mail expressing sympathy.

He has replied to neither.

This bugs me a bit (as no doubt it was intended to) and yesterday I discussed this with Angela my therapist. She, from an outsiders view point, asked me why I had sent these emails, and pointed out that they send very conflicting messages, that although the first contained no words, and the second only the briefest of sentences, there was a wealth of hidden meaning in both posts, that would have been obvious to the recipient.

The first was a “fuck you” message. In that one image, of me flying high, in Nepal with son1 (whom he loathed) excited, experiencing new things (that my regular income can buy) it was a real ” look how great I’m doing, despite the fact you thought I couldn’t manage without you, look how fantastic my life is now” It was a message of defiance, confidence and condescension. I can honestly say I didn’t think all of that when I sent it, but now I reflect on it I can see what was behind the sending – and I’m sure that’s what he picked up too …

The second message was one of sympathy. I thought long and hard before I wrote it, but eventually decided it was too pointed NOT to acknowledge the information my mother had passed on to me. Angela suggested that this is the exact opposite of what I sent in the first email. Sympathy, empathy, compassion, caring. All the kindness that I genuinely felt, but of course it sends an entirely different message about how I am feeling to the one I posted 3 weeks before.

After discussing this, I concluded that it very much mirrors exactly how I DO feel about him. Confused (still). Alternately free, independent, following my own path, building my relationships with my children, being the best mother I can be, excited about the opportunities that await me, and on the other hand vulnerable, kind, anxious not to see him hurt, thoughtful. Angry, and then sad; Optimistic and then vulnerable and lonely.

The fact that he hasn’t replied probably just reflects that he doesn’t know how to read me, that he’s fed up with my conflicting messages verbal, written and in person,  or he may have moved on to the next mug, or he may be angry or …. well , It doesn’t really matter does it. I meant it when I wrote a few days ago that I can accept its in the past and that nothing, no words or actions can repair this broken relationship. But Angela pointed out to me that it’s ok to be ambivalent sometimes, its ok to falter, it merely reflects the depth of emotions and the strength of my feelings. They don’t go away or resolve overnight and that this is a process, a path that I’m following. I’m a great deal further on than I was 6 months ago, but the emotional attachment takes time to wither and die.

The take home point for me about all this is that we convey a huge amount of meaning and emotion in the small, non verbal things we do or don’t do. That the majority of small things; ‘forgetting’ to send a text, not responding to a comment or reacting to situations in a way that is out of proportion, convey a huge multitude of meanings. These things are not  unplanned, they are deliberate manipulations to wrong foot someone, they are designed and engineered to gaslight and confuse.  I’m getting a glimpse of a deeply unpalatable and thoroughly disturbing outsiders view of that relationship, Its still shrouded in fog at the moment, still obscured by my naivety .. but the fog is lifting a little momentarily and small acts are now assuming a much greater significance.

I think that view, when its clearer, will be a much more accurate picture of the reality than the fairy tale and guilt I’ve been carrying around with me.

 

 

why am I on my own at 52?

As the time since the ending of my last relationship increases, and the emotional carnage left behind is partially healed,I begun to wonder, “will I be alone for ever?”

I started using the ‘bumble’ dating app for a while a few months ago, but though I had a couple of dates I quite quickly realised I had neither the energy nor the appetite for dating at that particular time. I deleted the app and carried on.

Despite the apparent ‘failure’ of this experiment, it taught me a couple of interesting lessons:

  1. Dating sober is ok. It’s not like dating drunk- or even a bit tipsy, but it has some distinct advantages
  2. I have got very picky. This is also not a bad thing, and for now it’s just an observation. There were many more men interested in ‘meeting’ me than I was prepared to consider.
  3. One can set ones own rules . And that’s ok, even expected. Saying ‘thanks but no thanks’ after dinner is not only fine, but providing it’s done politely and kindly , completely acceptable.
  4. I can’t be bothered at the moment. Dating requires energy. It requires time and a willingness to be available, leave home and try …. I’d rather be home with the kids /dogs and sewing /TV at the moment.

So with all these provisos I wonder why I am even wondering about the future, possible future, possible partner I might want/ choose if the option were there ?

Maybe because I’m still an optimist by nature. Maybe I still believe, or hope , that it’s possible for life to be enhanced by a partner – that someone loving you could be a positive rather than a sad, soul destroying descent into miserable, aching sadness. I do see it around me. I see couples who have weathered difficult times and come out together stronger- at least that’s how it looks to me from the outside. Certainly they have been together for many years.

I don’t lack companionship. I’m not lonely (any more) I have some great friends, a job which involves a lot of contact with others, a family and other more superficial acquaintances I can spend time with should I feel the need. I don’t even really feel the need for a partner to confide in – right now I can’t imagine trusting anyone’s advice more than that of K or my brother (female and male input) or my close sober sister (for those bits) …. I have Angela to pose the difficult questions at me , ….

If I think about it, it’s the future alone I don’t really fancy. When the kids have grown and left home – when I have retired, so less / no daily contact with colleagues … or maybe that special person for whom I would be the number one – as they would be for me ?

I think I’m in a much better position to chose wisely now. The last two relationships I embarked upon were both driven by psychological needs that I was only partially aware of. From a place where I am A) sober and b) painfully wiser , I think I could make a better choice – as long as I’m careful, listen to my gut instincts and am honest with myself .

Narcissistic personality disorder

I dislike “self diagnosing” patients who come to me and tell me they have “bipolar” because they are a bit moody, or lupus because they have a spot on their face.

And I try hard not to diagnose myself – I have a wonderful GP and I trust her 100% tomake sensible decisions about my health. She is secure enough not to be challenged by the fact I am a colleague, humble enough to come to joint decisions when required and mature enough to be firm ! 

BUT. I’m now going to do exactly what I hate others doing and do a bit of armchair Psychiatry with respect to my ex P

Narcissistic personality disorder: wiki definitions in italic, my observations in plain type

According to the DSM-5, individuals with NPD have most or all of the following symptoms, typically without commensurate qualities or accomplishments: 

1. Grandiosity with expectations of superior treatment from others. Yes yes yes. He expects others to treat him with the utmost respect and deference, yet shows little to others. He really believes he’s had a successful career when he has sold two works in the last 6 years, and has earned no money

2. Fixated on fantasies of power, success, intelligence, attractiveness, etc. He has  a whole load of completely unrealistic expectations as to how he can take small comments forward, believes he will be a global success without putting in any of the spade work

3. Self-perception of being unique, superior and associated with high-status people and institutions. He was once and I don’t think he has got over the loss 

4. Needing constant admiration from others. Always always, especially me. Have to tell him how wonderful everything he has done is…

5. Sense of entitlement to special treatment and to obedience from others. Enormous sense of entitlement to be supported financially whilst he does very little. Expected everyone – including me – else to do as he wishes. Shows no respect to my kids, but excpects them to respect him

6. Exploitative of others to achieve personal gain. Hmmm 6 years or not working not contributing and having everything paid for, absolutely no remorse or understanding as to how that could have been detrimental to me. Note debt in the 10,s of thousands … 

7. Unwilling to empathize with others’ feelings, wishes, or needs. They are so unimportant to him he won’t even discuss them

8. Intensely envious of others and the belief that others are equally envious of them not so sure about this one

9. Pompous  and arrogant demeanor, Oh yes, extremely 

So where does this get me? I sent this to my friend K ( without the annotations) and she saw immediately the traits within ExP. I also asked if it mattered what you call it ? She thinks it does, and I’m beginning to believe her – it helps me to know I’m not going mad, that this is him not me, that he will never change because these are fixed personality characteristics and he doesn’t not, cannot , see where he is wrong ? In which case I have to give up any faint hope that he will change, do anything different, understand what I’m saying and why I am upset. 

I have to let go, and understand that I can’t win. K also pointed out to me that I sound like I do not LIKE him much, and I realise I don’t – he has few of the personality traits I admire and many I positively dislike ; and that I don’t have much respect left for him. 

So maybe I’m going to go ahead , inside me and say that I believe my ExP has a narcissistic personality disorder. And that just maybe I’ve had a lucky escape. 

Empathy

Yesterday I had a series of email exchanges with my exP.

This was unwise really, as it reiterated my gut feeling that I am still very vulnerable to him, his words, his opinion, and to the bond we had.

it started innocently enough with a question about the location of some gadget or other, but soon developed in to an exchange of painful opinions about the demise of our relationship. Of course, it hit my empathy points. My caring side, the part that loves him. Of course I feel bad that he has no income, no home, no stability. Of course I care.

But then I come back to what my therapist, and my loved ones are trying to help me believe, that these things are not my fault. Not my responsibility. He is a fully able adult who made choices , including not listening when I said I was unhappy , including taking huge advantage of my financial generosity….

i look at my boys, and I see that they are happier. There is less tension, less shouting, they fight between themselves less. I have space and time to support them better, and to involve them in decisions that affect their futures.

last night, we all sat in one room, swathed in blankets, hot water bottles, and the dog for warmth (boiler not working) and watched a movie together. Simple. But so nice.

Our puppy will arrive in 3 weeks time – we are all very excited ! He represents a joint project between me and the boys – and we will all need to do our part. I have a puppy sitter for 4 hours a day when I am at work, so he will not be alone for any length of time for the first 2  months he’s home. After he’s immunised, he will he able to be taken out with Lola …

this is a hard path I’m travelling. I’m lonely sometimes, and afraid of the future. I feel like a failure at times, other times I know I just have to keep going and better things will come for all of us. I know I have love and support from friends and family, and that helps a lot !

Im sorry I’m not ‘giving’ a lot into the sober community at the moment – I’m struggling (tho not with sobriety) – but I do think of you all xxx

lily 🌷Xx