Love, You’re Still Here

Slowly making its way into my consciousness
The feelings came first, then the memories
And I saw you everywhere that night
As the old year started fading away
I knew I’d have to face the new year without you
But your shadow wouldn’t let go of me
It felt like just yesterday you were by my side

Remembering the previous December…
The restaurant where we had our last meal
The sandy beach we sat on that night
Welcoming in the new year together
The way you clung to me when you got scared
As if I alone could keep you safe

I’ve tried to forget you, erase you from my life
Removing all traces of you from my world
But the heart has a harder time letting go
I’m not sorry for loving you
But I am sorry that love wasn’t enough
To keep you with me, to keep you close

I had thought you were my whole world
But I realize you were just the center of it
Now, even without that center
The grass still grows, the sun still shines
Everything looks pretty much the same
But the atmosphere has changed somewhat

I loved you like no other, I adored you
I had felt safe and content in your love for a while
When you told me you don’t feel the same anymore
It tore me apart, down to my core
How could love fade so fast?
And I wonder, did you ever really love me?

I avoided talking about you, thinking about you
But I didn’t know I’d have to pay attention soon
I had to feel it, open up to the pain again
In order to finally let go fully and completely
It’s been a few days and you’re fading once more
I’ll always love you, but we were only meant
For a season, for a while, and that’s okay

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Contemplating Romantic Relationships

I’ve been single for the vast majority of my life. Part of the reason is because I find social situations challenging and overwhelming, so don’t go out much or meet new people often. Another reason is that I enjoy spending time alone and can quickly become irritated when I don’t spend enough time by myself and can end up feeling claustrophobic.

Even though I enjoy my own company, I get lonely sometimes. I’m human after all and crave intimacy and closeness. That intimacy and closeness isn’t just available in romantic relationships of course. Any type of relationship can have those elements, but for today I just want to focus on the one type.

One question that’s been on my mind lately is whether I want to be in another relationship at some point, or if I’m actually single at heart and would prefer rather staying single? It was a hard question to answer, so I took some time to explore it. Questions like these are also complicated because our answers can change over time. So this is where I am right now…

I’m not planning on actively pursuing a new relationship, but rather just keeping my heart open to new people and experiences and try take more chances that I would normally shy away from. I’m willing to put my heart out there again, knowing that there’s a chance I could get hurt. But my previous experiences have also shown me that I get through that heartache, and come away learning more about myself, others, and relationships in general. I don’t regret any of my previous relationships, because I believe that what I’ve gained was worth far more than what I lost. All the shitty experiences taught me something. Not only that, but I received other things that I wouldn’t have otherwise. An example of this is that my 4 year relationship led me to start work with an amazing therapist, and start the process of changing my life from the inside.

A while ago I told C, my therapist, that I’m happier alone. But I don’t think that was the actual truth. It felt true in the moment, but when I thought about it later, I found that it was more complicated than that. Because I remembered… In the beginning of my relationship with Elizabeth I was happier and more content than I’d ever been in any of my previous relationships, and in life in general in a long time. It wasn’t Elizabeth or the relationship itself that made me happy. It was a combination of that, as well as still having space and time to myself and being content in my inner world.

And that’s what I need in a relationship. There are times where I would prefer doing something, or going somewhere, alone. I have an anxious attachment style, so I’ll also need someone who will be secure enough within themselves to be okay with giving me reassurance when I need it. Anyone, no matter their attachment style, needs reassurance from time to time. I sometimes just need it a bit more often. The strange thing is, in the first couple of months of my relationship with Elizabeth I felt secure with no need to be reassured. The more she started pulling away from me in the last months (as I mentioned in another post, she’s the avoidant type; also nothing much changed in the amount of time we spent together, but somehow it was suddenly too much), the more insecure I became and that anxious style reared its ugly head. A big difference in this relationship is that I learned to communicate when something bothered me. I could confront when needed. Whereas in the past I was a doormat and would keep things inside (essentially a people pleaser and afraid of conflict), I now felt more confident and secure in myself to make my voice heard. The therapeutic relationship was one of the things that helped me develop this.

Before my last relationship, with Elizabeth, I had been aware of the three stages of romantic love, and got to see the first two play out. The first is well-known as the Honeymoon Period. I’m sure most of us have been here before. In this stage, everything is still new and seems perfect. It’s where we present our best selves. I’ll never forget the day Elizabeth told me that she feels like we’ve become just friends. Saying that things were becoming too comfortable between us, and she wanted to go back in time to how things were in the beginning. I of course knew that the Honeymoon Phase doesn’t last, and that the next stage, the Individuation Stage, is a natural progression of a relationship, and that was probably where she was finding herself. The lndividuation Stage is where “the good, bad, and ugly” parts of ourselves starts showing, and more conflict arises as both partners try to balance who they are in the relationship with who they are as an individual. At least that’s how I understand it. Relationships take work, and this is especially evident at this point in a relationship. I’m not willing to be with someone who doesn’t understand or accept this. I should have taken it as a red flag that Elizabeth’s longest relationship was 6 months (ours was as well), and she never spent much time single. I’m only using Elizabeth in this post as an example, not to blame or point fingers. I wasn’t perfect either, and all I can do is learn from that relationship. Thanks to this relationship I’m now a lot more aware of what I’m looking for.

I don’t know if I believe in “the one”. Some people find that one person they’ll be with for the rest of their lives, and in that case, they’ve found “the one”. But for the rest of us there isn’t only one person out there that we need to find. I believe that if we keep our hearts and minds open we’ll meet someone who sets our soul on fire. Most relationships may not last, but to close ourselves off to love is, in my opinion, much more heart breaking.

Do I Really Love?

There are times where I feel nothing for people. Not even those I “claim” to love. This can last from hours to weeks. Sometimes I wonder whether I really do love after all? Then there are moments where I know I love that person/those people and I feel it, but that feeling can come and go so quickly sometimes.

I’m one of those people who almost never cry at funerals. Instead of thinking I’m at the funeral in order to say goodbye to someone and all of that funeral stuff, I’m dreading going due to the social aspect. It’s not about the person who passed away, it’s about my own social anxiety and unease. The exception was at my grandmother’s funeral, where I was in a dissociative bubble and so disconnected from everyone there that it felt I was alone.

When a public figure dies, for example by suicide, I don’t feel a thing. I don’t get why suddenly everyone is talking about it and seeming to genuinely feel sad about it. Sure, I pretend I care, and it’s hard (and shameful) to admit this, but I actually don’t. This always makes me feel like a hard, cruel person. Or not human at all.

I told my therapist this in our session last week. We were talking about my uncle who recently got diagnosed with cancer. She asked me how I feel. My answer? Nothing. I feel uncomfortable, but not sure exactly what that feeling encompasses. Where once I felt so close to my uncle and knew I love him, suddenly I don’t feel anything toward him. My therapist mentioned something about trauma and PTSD symptoms, but I can’t really remember what all she said… My mind and memory have been cloudy lately. Want to bring this up again in tomorrow’s session.

I saw there’s a new X-Men movie coming out in February, and just watched the trailer. When the first film of this movie franchise came out I was obsessed with it. I’ve watched the first 3 movies at least 40 times each, and the later ones about 10 times or so. Which is why when Jennifer Lawrence was cast in one of them a few years after the first 3 I was ecstatic. The point of bringing this up now is because while watching the trailer I got the same feeling I did all those years ago with the first film. These are my people. I’ve always felt like an outcast and “defective”. I would pretend I was one of those characters. My favourite used to be Phoenix (Jean Grey) and I took on that character. I was Phoenix. These days I still feel like a mutant, an alien on this planet. And this questioning whether I truly love is just one of the reasons for that. This new X-Men film is Jean’s journey on the “dark side”. Maybe I’m closer to that version of her.

Sometimes I feel like I have a lump of coal in place of a heart. That’s how I feel right now.

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The End.

I guess I can’t say that I didn’t see this coming. But I didn’t believe that it would actually happen.

As I mentioned in my previous post, Elizabeth and I broke up two weeks ago. She came over the Sunday evening and she asked me whether we could try starting over, and get back to that “honeymoon” stage. I was confused as to how to go about that, since every relationship naturally goes through different stages, but I agreed anyway. She mentioned that we’re too comfortable with one another, and it feels as though we’re just friends. She mentioned things such as not getting changed in front of one another anymore. I didn’t get how that would bring those feelings back, but I was willing to give it a try.

We went for a walk after that, and this time she actually took my hand again as we walked. The way she used to in the beginning. It wasn’t me who had to initiate it (I was still a bit weary of holding her hand in case she didn’t want that). It felt good. We watched a movie when we got back, and she actually let me hold her. I felt hopeful again. That things were going to be okay. But then, when we got into bed, she was distant again, and told me she had taken a sleeping pill, turned around and just said “goodnight”. No hug, no kiss. I suddenly felt very hurt and angry. So I got up and went to go sit outside for a while.

The next morning when I left for work, she also left to go back home. I was about to kiss her goodbye, but she just bypassed it and gave me a hug instead. One that again, felt cold. For the rest of that morning I didn’t allow myself to go down a negative thought process. I tried to hold onto the hope that things would get better. Because, after all, things rarely change overnight.

Elizabeth didn’t tell me when she got home safely, so a few hours later, I decided to send her a message asking whether she was at home, and okay. She told me she was, but that she had a lot on her mind. I asked her what was bothering her. And that’s when it started.

She told me that she doesn’t think she’s attracted to me anymore. That her feelings have changed, and she doesn’t think it will change back by continuing to “try”. She asked me what I thought, what I wanted to do. I told her that I still want to be with her, but I don’t want to be with someone who doesn’t really want to be with me. I told her that I’d been feeling as though she’s been pulling away from me. Distancing herself from me, and she admitted that was the case. So it wasn’t all in my head, as I thought it might have been. I had thought that I was just oversensitive, and projecting. But this time, my feelings and intuition had been correct.

While all I wanted to do was beg her to please stay and give us another chance, another part of me knew it was better for the relationship to come to an end. I couldn’t keep living in that state of confusion and walking on eggshells.

Having your heart broken over voice notes is not the best way to have things end. For two entire days that week I was so angry with Elizabeth. I felt rejected, hurt, and betrayed. I had felt so confused, depressed and anxious in the relationship the last couple of months, and she knew she didn’t love me “anymore”, but just continued to let me believe that she still had feelings for me. That we would get through it. I doubt she ever really loved me. Can love really just vanish like that? If it can, I’m not interested in having anything to do with it.

We’ve agreed to stay friends. When Jasmine and I broke up and decided to just be in one another’s lives as friends, I found it pretty easy. But with Elizabeth, it’s not. I haven’t seen her since we’ve broken up, but we’ve spoken over text on occasion. I’ve limited the contact, because I found it too hard. Once I’m out of the clinic, she’s going to come fetch the things she left at my place. I don’t know how I’m going to feel when I see her for the first time again.

Can we be friends? I don’t know yet. She’s already spoken about meeting someone again “like maybe in a month- how will you take that?” (her words). How do you think? It will hurt. I told her that it’s her life and I can’t tell her what to do or what she’s not allowed to do. But of course it will hurt, especially since she said that she can’t sustain a relationship right now, there’s too many other things in her life. If she meets someone else so soon, what does that mean about the relationship we had? That she wants to be with someone, just not me? She told me that she enjoys being single, but it gets boring after a while. So having heard all of this from her, can I have her in my life as a friend and be okay? I’m not ready to cut her out of my life… I don’t even want her to come get her stuff yet. As the psychologist I’m seeing here in the clinic told me (about something unrelated), I don’t have to make any decisions right now.

What makes this breakup so much harder than all the others combined, is the fact that the first couple of months were amazing. It finally felt like I was in a healthy relationship. She was everything I had wanted, and more. I felt content with life, even though the other parts of my life sucked. But she allowed negative outside forces to take up too much space in our relationship. I fucked up as well, but we always managed to sort through things. I guess sometimes things are just bound to fail.

Since I’ve been in the clinic I’ve been somewhat distracted. I haven’t had the time or space to deal with this properly. Today there aren’t any groups, as it’s a Sunday, and both of my roommates and other patients have day passes, so it’s the first time I’ve had a few hours just to myself. So I haven’t been able to “run away” from allowing myself to experience the hard emotions. I feel broken.

If she wanted to get back together, would I? Again, part of me will be overjoyed with that, but the biggest part of me feels like it will just be repeating the same pattern. What if after a few months, this happens again? She loses that feeling again? I can’t go through this again. It hurts too much.

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Relationship Confusion

I’ve been confused, anxious, and depressed lately, and just wanted some opinions, and other’s perspectives on a situation.

For the past few weeks things have felt very unstable in my relationship with Elizabeth. Late last week, I thought we had worked through everything. But the past few days it seems nothing has really changed, and is maybe becoming worse.

There have been a few good moments, but they don’t seem to last, and feel like they’re coming fewer and further between.

I feel like I have to walk on eggshells around her. Even over text and on the phone. I’m almost constantly scared that I say or do the wrong thing, and she’ll be upset. It seems she’s becoming more and more irritated and sensitive to everything I say and do… Even my facial expressions. I’ve explained that sometimes what she thinks she sees in my expression isn’t actually what I’m thinking. She assumes the negative quickly.

I don’t need much in a relationship to be happy. I just want to feel secure, loved, and like I matter. Isn’t that what everyone needs from a relationship? I thrive on intimacy. Meaningful conversation and physical affection (as simple as holding my hand or a hug) is important to me.

Lately, I’ve been feeling insecure in the relationship. I don’t know where I stand with Elizabeth. Just when I think everything is fine, one small thing can shatter that “illusion” and I’m left feeling confused.

Elizabeth has GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder), so she gets overwhelmed easily. I can understand that to a certain extent. I also get overwhelmed easily. But I don’t let that interfere too much with the relationship. I don’t let it change the way I treat her. I’ve been wondering whether I’m too much for her. I try not to be. I give her space when she needs it. We see one another once, sometimes twice a week, and I try to limit my texts to her.

She seems cold towards me sometimes. And it feels as though I can’t do anything right. That so many things irritate her and I never know whether something I say, do, or even a facial expression, is going to make her get irritated with me and pull away. I’m scared to ask for a hug when I feel I could really use one, because she might not be “feeling it”, and she told me that when she’s anxious or in a bad space, she doesn’t want to feel obligated to give me something I need, because when she does that, then it feels like she’s not being true to herself. She needs to take care of herself. I get that. I told her last week that when she pulls away from me it feels like I’m being punished, but she said that’s not what she’s doing… She just needs me to respect her need for space then.

I’m even too scared to hold her hand when we’re walking, or cuddle up to her when we’re watching a movie, because she’s made it clear that when she’s not “feeling it” she doesn’t want to show or accept affection… And it feels like she’s at that place most of the time lately. It seems like affection is only okay when she feels it’s okay. It’s not about me… Her needs and wants come first. If she’s going through a hard time, I try to be as supportive as possible, and am willing to put aside my own struggles for a while in order to be there for her. But she told me she can’t do that for me. That it overwhelms her and makes her resentful.

The worst thing is that the more she pulls away, the more insecure I get. But I’m going to try not to make that known, so she doesn’t feel overwhelmed and miserable in the relationship. But how do you know when you get to the point where you’re giving up your own needs and wants just to make sure that your partner is happy in the relationship? Or whether you really are the problem and your needs/wants are just unrealistic? Maybe I’ll get used to things this way and won’t feel as insecure, because she’ll be more affectionate again? Maybe I’m just too sensitive, and by just going with “the flow” I’ll become less sensitive over time?

If I don’t do or say anything that day that irritates her, or makes her feel “bad”, then she’s affectionate. I’m scared every time I have a quick reaction to something she did or didn’t do, or something she said, that she’ll see it on my face, and I know that pisses her off. Even if I don’t say anything. Just the look on my face is enough for her. And then for the rest of the day she seems cold towards me. Is this normal? It doesn’t feel normal, but then again, I’m not too sure what’s normal in a relationship and what’s not.

I’m doubting myself a lot lately. Wondering whether the problems in the relationship is all just me. That maybe I’m just too much. Maybe I just need to change? I’ve made some changes already, and she’s acknowledged that I’m trying and have been doing better. But it still seems as though I mess up more than I should, and that now she’s even more hyper aware of every little thing.

The last evening I spent with her was on Monday, and usually we always say goodnight with a kiss. That night she didn’t. I wanted to kiss her, but I could sense she didn’t want that, as she had already said goodnight and turned around. When we were saying goodbye on Tuesday morning, she gave me a hug (again, no kiss), but the hug felt distant and cold. I have no idea what I did wrong. The rest of the day (yesterday) she seemed cold over text as well. It still doesn’t feel right today. But maybe it’s just my imagination.

I’m going to try to be better. I think that maybe if I just hide it better when I feel overlooked, hurt, or upset, that maybe things will be better. That I need to be more considerate maybe.

I don’t talk about this to my friends because I don’t want them to treat her any differently (they like her), and I feel a bit of shame for how I’m feeling only 6 months into the relationship. So I thought I’d post this here and see what you guys think?

Please keep in mind that these are my feelings, thoughts, and perspective on the relationship. So you won’t know how things are from her perspective. There are probably other factors involved as well.

Love In The Therapeutic Relationship

Now this is an awkward topic, right? Which is why I haven’t written about it yet. I’ve been meaning to for quite a while now, but I couldn’t get myself to start. After the in-person session I had with my therapist last week Monday, I feel the time is right. There’s nothing strange with what I’m writing about, it’s just that not everyone is as comfortable with this topic as I am. I get it. I was there too. In fact, even though it’s so much easier for me to explore this these days, I still feel a little vulnerable. But that’s why I love my blog space. I can be as open and honest as I want without anyone seeing the different shades of red spreading across my face when I share certain things. “Red suits you”, one of my friends recently said after she kissed me on the cheek. In my defense, we’ve been friends for over 21 years, and she’s never done anything like that. She’s one of those “anti-touch” people.

So. I love my therapist. She knows this, as I’ve told her a couple of times in the past. I once asked her whether that was okay. Trust me when I tell you, it’s okay. I haven’t said those words to her since last year, but there have been a few times where I’ve almost blurted out again “I love you”, but didn’t. I wasn’t quite on the “knowing what I actually mean” path yet.

The love I felt for her has taken on different meanings throughout the first year of working with her. The “in what way?” question had been a source of confusion during much of that time. A few sessions into our first couple of months working together, I had a little bit of a crush on her. Okay, maybe a big one. There was also a time where I thought I might actually be in love with her, or getting there. I told you…Awkward. Plenty of times, I thought that loving her is wrong. That I’m not supposed to. Not allowed to. That it’s inappropriate. The natural consequence of those thoughts was shame. And a lot of it.

Sometime last year, I went through a stage where I had a few intimate dreams of her. They confused me. I told her about one or two of them, but never went into detail of course. It’s intimidating and so scary to bring these kinds of dreams and feelings to our therapists. Wondering what’s wrong with us, and feeling ashamed and embarrassed. But it’s nothing they haven’t heard before. Those feelings can be so big sometimes, and it’s important to talk about it. I’m guilty of not always having spoken to her about some of those feelings. But I know I’ll be able to if something ever comes up again. After all, I need to practice what I preach, right?

I once told my therapist that I love her as a person. A fellow human being. But that’s very broad isn’t it? After all, I only get to see the professional Clinical Psychologist side of her (with little bits of self-disclosure thrown into the mix every now and then). But, it’s still her. Maybe I don’t get to see the other roles she plays outside the therapy room, such as that of wife, daughter, friend, etc. But I also get to see her in her role as therapist, which they don’t get to see.

“I love coffee.”
“I love my friends.”
“I love my parents.”
“I love my partner.”
“I love my children.”
“I love my pet/s.”

Love. One word to represent different forms of it. So I’m going to call this form “therapy love”.

I feel like I’ve grown in the love I feel for her. I’m finally in a comfortable, secure place, where it just makes perfect sense. It’s not the kind of love shared between partners, parents, children or friends. It’s a love of its own. But it’s not less than those other forms. The therapeutic relationship is unique and not the typical kind of relationship, but it’s still a relationship. And the same is true of the love that we feel inside that relationship. I know a lot of you love your therapists this way too.

Then there’s the love that the youngest parts feel. I think it comes out of how children might feel about their main attachment figure? I’m not sure. I can’t remember if I felt anything about my earliest attachment to my mom. The earliest memories I have of her is when I was about 3 or 4 I think. But I also don’t remember much from those years and those after. Just little (and big) things here and there. But the love for my therapist that comes from those little parts feels different. Attachment love maybe?

Seeing my therapist again last Monday was amazing. When she came to get me, the minute I saw her face, it felt as though my heart just lit up. It was so nice being back in her office. It was familiar, with that “home” feeling. I like the fact that she has couches, and not just chairs. Like with my psychiatrist and OT, it felt a little awkward sitting in those chairs. I also find it intimidating because you have someone sitting right in front of you, whereas the way my therapist’s couches are arranged, you don’t get that “she’s staring me down” vibes. It’s comfortable and makes the space feel less clinical, and more welcoming.

I brought a lot to her that session. Way too much. I was emotional and jumped from one topic to the next. I was extremely ungrounded. So I gave her too much to work with, or too little. But at least now I understand (after she explained it to me), how the way I want therapy to work won’t provide long-term benefits. I might feel better for a few hours afterward, but that’s not the goal. I’ve always felt that maybe I’m doing therapy wrong. But there isn’t a wrong. It’s a learning journey as well. And now I understand her view better, and it makes so much more sense. Now I know better how to approach our sessions. Strangely, I feel more in control, like there’s a clear structure to work with. I’ve always tried to squeeze as much into a session as possible, because it feels time pressured due to the fact that I don’t see her every week. I feel like our most productive sessions have been when we’ve stuck with one topic though, and I know she feels the same way about this. I prefer it that way, so will give up on the “time pressure”.

Sometime during the session, my therapist asked “what do you want?”. In that moment, every part of me wanted to say “can you please come sit next to me? Hug me?” Of course I didn’t ask that. I’m very aware of boundaries these days, and I especially don’t want to cross any of her personal boundaries.

Near the end of the session, I wanted to show my therapist some of the pictures that I had taken while visiting with my mom, sisters, aunt and uncle. By that time I was feeling much more grounded. I like how she always seems so interested in seeing the pictures that I take. Last year, during one of the sessions we had when I was still living in the same city as her, I also showed her a picture (of me when I was a little girl- moody as hell), but I just handed her the phone where she was sitting. This time though, she actually moved to the furthest end of her couch, so she was close to mine. That surprised me (in a good way of course). One of the other reasons why I didn’t ask her whether she could come sit by me, was because I was also holding onto shame (so what else is new dammit), and therefore felt untouchable, unlovable and hideous. Why would she want to sit close to me? Why would anyone? Stupid inner voice. That one little action, of her moving closer, made a world of difference. It felt as though she broke through another one of my defenses. I have so many, I don’t even know all of them. Most are (probably) subconscious.

At some point I had the urge to draw, colour in, paint, etc. Why, I have no idea. My therapist let me borrow some paper and her pencil, and I got to it. It was so small, just took up a little space in the corner. I drew one thing on top of the other. No one would have been able to decipher that and know what the hell I had just drawn. But I know, so that’s what matters.

At the end of our session, I started to feel a little emotional again. I didn’t want to leave. But of course, I had to. Don’t you just hate that? As we were walking out, I wanted to ask my therapist whether I could hug her, but felt too shy to ask. But I knew that if I didn’t, I would probably regret it for a long, long time, and beat myself up over it. And then without thinking about it any further, I just came out and asked if I can give her a hug. She said “of course” and when she said it that way, I knew she was comfortable with it then, and I felt relieved. And my favourite part was when she said “I’ll give you one”. I loved that! It was the most special, meaningful hug I’ve ever had. A hug from the person that I never thought I’d ever get to be that close to.

It feels like my connection to her, that bond, has deepened. Which I didn’t think was even possible. I felt loved and valued. She really cares about me. And that’s such an amazing, warm, and soothing feeling.

So…

I love my therapist.