Day 88 (13 June): Love
Updated: Jun 14
Today I am going to be very open and completely personal. I am going to expose my failings and weaknesses and relate what I am doing to rebuild myself. So no beasties and no humour. Please feel free to get on with something else if that is not your cup of tea and we will meet up again tomorrow.
Why would I want to do this? Because we all struggle and all feel compelled to put a brave face on things and polish up our Face Book images. The purpose of this post is to reassure you that if things seem screwed up it is confirmation that you are a human being, and to stress that we are all in this life together - so reach out! Mental health, like physical health, needs to be maintained and we all need love.
In my case there has proven to be a significant qualitative difference between my capacity for exercising logic and performing practical tasks and my capacity to successfully engage in the most important of occupations - a loving relationship.
I am working on this. At the end of my last long-term relationship my partner and I split up as amicably as is possible and remained good friends for months; until she found somebody else. I then went went completely to pieces. I was distraught and convinced I could not live without her. I had not realised how much I loved her and how central she was to my life until she moved out of my sphere completely - she now lives in Copenhagen.
I had been totally and utterly out of touch with my feelings.
The lady in question is beautiful, funny, kind and perceptive, she was a wonderful lover to me and a marvellous ‘second mother’ to my children; they still stay in contact with her. It took me many months to understand that such a long lasting and extreme reaction on my part was not just due to the qualities of the woman herself. It was as much to do with issues integral as to who I am. As soon as she found her new partner (a very nice man by all accounts) I realised I needed help and almost immediately began therapy which eventually led to me doing the Hoffman Process in the U.K. last September. I followed this up with a lot of mindfulness meditation and a lot of reading. At the bottom of today’s blog you will find the titles of two books which I warmly recommend.
In my particular case the big issue would seem to be an intense fear of rejection which I try to avoid by pleasing, to the extent that I lose all boundaries.
Why? Well, it will come as no surprise to learn that it all goes back to childhood. I’m 64 - and a little boy inside me has spent 64 years shouting ‘help’.
My mother was a very strict disciplinarian and never showed affection physically. I have no memories of being kissed or cuddled and no memories of my parents ever showing affection to each other. I have distinct memories of being told on so very many occasions by my mother ‘You are a guest in this house’ or ‘If you don’t stop crying I will give you something to cry about’ and my personal favourite, ‘I’m going to slap you until you stop crying’.
This from my mother. My father was absent for a lot of the time. He went to the pub every evening and at lunchtimes during the weekends and holidays. I suspect my mother was bitter at this abandonment and much of that bitterness expressed itself in her approach to her children.
So I became a pleaser. If I worked harder and achieved more I would be accepted one day. My father is scared of heights? I will take up free-fall parachuting and rock climbing. And on and on in the same vein. So, in my adult life, being rejected just pushed all the wrong buttons.
I am working on it. I am learning to deal with the person in front of me and not some transference from the past. I am learning to set reasonable boundaries to protect myself. I am learning that being an obsessive pleaser is not the path to love.
All my life I have maintained physical fitness. Today, a typical day, I did 90 minutes of hard physical training. I do language lessons every day and I read widely. But all that falls under the category of routine body and brain maintenance. My goal now is growth and development - specifically in my capacity to offer and accept truthful, meaningful and deep love.
I am learning.
I am not going to fixate on finding some perfect tick a check-list person, but I am going to work on becoming a more loving and realistic person who will be better able to sustain and move with a changing and growing relationship.
Perhaps the thing I most want to learn is to really look at people - to see them as they are, not as I might want them to be and not as unfinished business from the past.
To look and to listen, to feel and to be with the person who is really in front of me.
That is my challenge. Good luck with yours my friends.
Told you it was not going to be funny.
'When the Past is Present' by David Richo
'How to be an Adult in Relationships - the Five Keys to Mindful Loving' also by David Richo