Saturday, October 08, 2005

Two questions

In an email earlier this week, C. asked me two questions:

Why do you "dodge people and keep others at arm's length?"I answered: One part of the answer question is that I am not very good at saying 'no'. If I avoid people, then they are less likely to ask or demand something of me that I do not want to give but will give anyway because I can more easily dismiss my own discomfort than the possibility that I might cause someone pain--the curse of being too empathetic/sympathetic.

What are you really afraid of...now? I answered: Right now, I am afraid of loving people.
Why I am afraid of loving people? Because, in my experience, loving people hurts.
What is wrong with hurting? I ask myself. Nothing. Pain is not the reciprocal of Love, I remind myself. It is the result of my awareness of my separateness, of my struggle to communicate my true self with those I love.
Intellectually I understand that there is nothing wrong with hurting, that emotional pain is a part of living and growing, and that it is a natural and understandable consequence of interaction. But emotionally, it is unacceptable to me. People I loved in my youth damaged me and something in me once refused to risk it any more. But I also know that I must continue to work at overcoming that aversion to risk. I know that I am unconsciously reproducing behaviour that was once adaptive but is now merely repetitive, and with effort and awareness, I can free myself from the unconscious habits that inhibit me and have me oscillating between the twin drives of desire and fear.

I've given that last question and my response more thought. I've thought about C. and N. and the differences in my feelings for, and reactions to, them.

My main problems with C. were that I found him physically intimidating, and that I found his expression of sexual interest threatening. I've spent enough time around him now that I am used to his height, and I've gotten to know him well enough that I know it is not his nature to use his size to his advantage. Once I talked to him about sexual intercourse, he stopped pushing. We kiss, we cuddle, we touch intimately, but when I indicate it is time to stop, he stops. He is sweet and fun, he's not around too much because he travels a lot, he calls often, he excites me. I like his sister and her boys, they seem to like me. So what am I afraid of?

And with N., he is newly out of a 30 year marriage. He is intense and open and completely non-pushy. But he's 15 years older and he has gotten emotionally-involved too quickly, too intensely, especially for someone he's met online. And he's a Dom *shiver*. Big red flag. I told him about the Dom who pushed me too far and he said that it was a shame about that, but that his kink is pleasure as a form of power exchange, not pain. And he said that, regardless, we could never go the BDSM route and he would be perfectly ok with that, because he doesn't want submission from me. He said he has met many submissive women, but only one woman like me. I think he is lying to himself, if he thinks he would be happy outside the Lifestyle. I care about him, but I told him I'm not ready for a relationship, especially not one like he wants. He said he would wait. So what am I afraid of?

Its not that I'm afraid of loving people. I love people. I have lots of love in me and I apply it liberally, especially with my friends.

I love my family, but I do not like who I am when I am with them; I do not like the old patterns we revert to, so I love them from afar--but even that is changing as I am learning to observe my feelings and reactions and follow them to their source and attempt to address the underlying issues. Of course, I can only affect my own internal mappings. I cannot change those of others, and, well, when I'm around they unconsciously expect me to fulfill the role of 'enabler' that I once held.

And I've loved my partners, but I've nearly always held a part of myself aloof. While something in me wants to give myself emotionally to my partner with the same level of abandonment that I give myself over to physical pleasure, I am afraid to do so. I am afraid of opening that door and stepping through it. I've a very good idea of what lies beyond, and sure as it is cold and raining outside, something in me is pushing inexorably toward that end.

So... what I am afraid of is... me. The possibilities that once lay dormant within me. That are stirring within me. And the knowledge that opening up that way requires trusting another person, letting someone inside me in more ways than just one or two... and I really don't like needing others, or needing help--and trust is such a many-layered thing.

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