The more you explore human relationships, the more you realise just how incredibly complicated they are. Intricate. Even the most basic interaction has a thousand threads which entangle themselves. We need other people, yet at the same time we don’t want to need them. We want to be needed, yet we want to be free of the responsibility of giving others what they need. Especially if it conflicts with our needs. We want to be independent, yet we need others to prove to ourselves just how independent of them we are. Without others, do we even exist.
There were times as a child when I was so invisible, I was not sure that I was actually real. Solid. I felt like a ghost. When someone saw me, they often reacted with fear or surprise. Which sort of confirmed that I was a spectre. Yet at the same time it showed me that I had some ability to be visible on the material plane. Their fear I put down to the fact that because I was so excited to finally have my existence validated, I would be a little bit too intense in the interaction. Their surprise I fancifully imagine was because, well one minute I was not there, and the next minute I was. They were just as shocked as me to find that I was real. I’m referring to the times when I was noticed and acknowledged as a human being, rather than the times when I was seen as a vessel into which someone could pour the shit they wanted to get out of their system. Those times I was only visible as a thing. And those are the times when I wanted to disappear completely.
So many people say that they want to be accepted for who they are, not for who others want them to be. I’ve said it. I hear others saying it. Yet we want acceptance so much, we often disguise who we are, modify ourselves to suit others, so that they will like us. We seek acceptance from others, mostly, perhaps, because through their acceptance of us, we learn to accept ourselves. The thing is, others are doing to us what we are doing to them. So this need for acceptance flows both ways. As we reach out and ask a person to accept us, they are reaching out to us for acceptance. That is what makes it so utterly confusing. The line gets blurred. Misunderstandings occur, and rejection creeps into the situation. Sometimes a relationship turns into a game of who is going to reject who first.
I reached out to someone the other day whom I used to know. I was a part of their life for a while. Then I wasn’t. Then I was again. Then I wasn’t again. In this particular case, I am the culprit, the ghost bolter, the one who kept coming and going. I know why I behaved the way I did. I don’t think I ever explained it to them. I tried, but I think how I explained it, explained nothing at all. It sounded like an excuse. It was. And it wasn’t.
The person rejected my most recent effort to connect with them, and although it saddens me, I think that I would have done exactly the same thing in their place. I dicked them around, and they do not want to be dicked with again. The last time I appeared in their life, I promised not to disappear again, and then I disappeared again. I did leave them with an open line of communication, to keep the connection, but they ignored it and never contacted me.
It was a tricky situation because I had reentered their life using the medium of Facebook. I was new to Facebook and thought it was great, then I grew to hate it. I had a fierce battle with myself about deleting my account. I told myself to keep it and not use it for anything other than to stay in touch with my friends. But I’m a very all or nothing sort of person, and the idea of not making a definite decision bugged me. Then all that privacy issue with Facebook accounts happened, and I decided it was a sign. I deleted my account, but first I made sure my friends had my email address. I love email. But so many people seem to treat it with disdain. Like an archaic form of communication which dirties their fingers when they use it. Maybe I’ll feel that way too one day. So, several of my friends decided that if I didn’t stay on Facebook for them, they wouldn’t email me. That was how I interpreted their behaviour. I accepted their decision. Sort of.
I thought about trying to contact this person again after my last attempt, to explain myself… and then a horrible thought struck me. I suddenly saw myself… I have to say this, but it is making me want to hurl… as behaving exactly like my parents. Pulling the sort of crap they pulled. Chasing after someone, needing them to make me feel better about myself, mostly forgiving me for treating them like I did, and once they did that… would I repeat the pattern again. Yet one of the reasons I behave this way, the appearing and disappearing, is because it was a survival mechanism I developed to deal with the crap my parents pulled. What a mess.
Why did I dick this person around. That is way too complicated to answer. But I’ll try. It may just sound like an excuse. It is. And it isn’t. Whenever I go through an internal crisis, I tend to distance myself from other people. A hole opens in the ground and the earth swallows me up. It eventually spits me out again, but it can take a while before it does. People who don’t know me well, either don’t mind or even notice when I disappear, or they take it personally and feel deeply hurt by it. The ones who genuinely know me and accept me as I am, warts and all, don’t necessarily understand why they are not allowed to be there for me in a crisis, but they get that I need time alone with myself, that it is not a rejection of them, but an acceptance of myself.
Trying to accept the parts of myself which I find unacceptable is always very difficult. I have quite a lot of those. The strange thing is that the parts which I find easiest to accept are often those which others find the hardest to accept. And the parts I categorically don’t like, are often the bits other people seem to prefer.
I have accepted that I need this, that I have to be selfish about it, even if it costs me some very good relationships. My relationship with myself comes first. Not a choice. All my other relationships are affected by the way I relate to myself. I have, in the past, tried not to disappear when I’m having an internal upheaval. To share my worst with my friends. What usually happens is that my crisis triggers a crisis in a friend, then I have to put my crisis to one side as I aid my friend through their crisis. I owe it to them for triggering the damn thing. This delays my own crisis, which delays catharsis, which means I have to go through a whole cycle to reach crisis point again. I love having a crisis, it’s horrific and wonderful all at once. I always emerge from them feeling renewed, and liberated. And the friends who waited for me to return… they get to enjoy the best of me. I feel stupid saying that last bit… Is it true?
So, if you’ve made it to the end of this blurb, you deserve a reward. My guess is you’ve probably been dicked around by someone like me, so consider this a catharsis post, and tell me what you think and feel about it. Shout at me if you want. That sounds like me asking you to punish me for behaving badly. It’s not. Or is it?