I never thought I would meet someone like Paul. If you ever read my memoir, (which I am hoping that you will one day, and think it’s fabulous!), you will get a very clear picture of what a crazy, emotionally stunted, fearful young adult I was. The deck was not stacked in my favor; I had been picking Mr. Wrong for years. You may even know him. He’s the good looking, great lover, yet emotionally unavailable guy, who you give your whole being too, only to have it passed back with a giant “no thank-you” note attached. Crashing and burning fits in there somewhere as well. This was my most recent relationship prior to Paul, and I was still dusting myself off from all the crap that had attached to me during our time together, when Paul and I first went out. This was a guy I broke up with after 3 months, and we should’ve stayed broken up, but instead we got back together, and eventually moved out West together. I told you I was emotionally stunted!
Paul was living with my co-worker, and we had already known each other peripherally for 7 months, before we went out. It was great! We had endless things to talk about, and the connection ran deep. Both of us sensed something special, something we had never felt before. It was more than great; it was amazingly exciting!
Except for one thing: I was resistant.
I was so resistant, I called the whole thing off after 2-weeks, simply because I couldn’t get over how strong that part of me was. Obviously we worked it out, as we have been married for 14 years! What I came to understand, was this: Paul was the most sensitive, caring, emotionally available man I had ever met; something that I knew deep down I wanted. And after 26 years of living, I finally got it; I never wanted to be with someone I didn’t fully connect with again. This was a recent declaration of mine, one that had yet to go into practice. I had dated a bit post break up with Mr. Wrong, but Paul was the first guy who appeared, who truly fit the bill of deep connection. He had done therapy, and was sensitive, and could talk about his feelings like nobody’s business! I had been going for emotionally unavailable guys for years. Paul challenged all of this, by forcing me to confront things I wasn’t even aware of, such as what were the qualities in a man I found attractive? It became clear quickly, that sensitivity, while on paper was a quality I highly desired, was not one I found desirable in real life. Also, how fearful was I, to finally be vulnerable with someone? Every Mr. Wrong I picked was a guaranteed no-show in that department, something I now understand I unconsciously choose. Paul really, really liked me. And we both felt it. I was freaking freaked out.
But I dealt with it. I chose Paul, over all those negative patterns I had been living since I hit puberty, and once I did, the resistance melted away, like soapy bubbles down a drain. And it’s been worth it! I can’t imagine being with anyone else, loving anyone else, growing old with anyone else. We’ve had our scary, Will our marriage survive this? moments, and come out the other side, which includes the struggle of parenting 2 special needs kids, something many couples can’t survive. We have experienced such utter joy together, across a variety of moments and occasions. He is my true soul mate.
So after 14 years of marriage, and 16 years of togetherness, I realize that I am in that place again, that place of resistance. It isn’t sudden, and I’ve known it for some time. It’s the “what to do about it” I dread.
I love Paul. I love him with all my heart and soul. But there is a piece of me that keeps my distance, keeps us from growing closer. Much of it has to do with my early experiences in life, ones that left me with a wounded soul, by the time I became a young woman.
It is this, that I don’t want to deal with.
But don’t I deserve deep, intense love, on every level humanly possible?
I have decided that I do.
I am an extrovert by nature, but when I was a kid, I was left to fend for myself in a majorly dysfunctional family, complete with infidelity, fraud, and something that is hard to write about, but is in my memoir so I better get used to it: incest. My sister accused my father over 20 years ago. I am the only one in my family to this day who believes her, and that includes my mother, 2 other siblings, and ever-denying father. My sister says she doesn’t think it happened to me, and I have no memory of anything. Still, I wonder. My sister and I shared a room. And she thinks it might’ve happened to my other sister.
So for years, I acted like an introvert, scared of the world. Having bullies on my street all my childhood didn’t help.
Perhaps this is why I dated so, so many Mr. Wrongs? I had a lying, cheating, and again, another hard word to write out loud, son-of-a-bitch-raping, father. My mother chose to stay with my father through his many infidelities, and again, through the accusation of incest, made by my sister.
How this fits into my picture, I do not know. But it fits somewhere. And it isn’t just Paul; I spent years trying to figure out how to have even a healthy friendship (again-all in my memoir!). I have come a long way, clearly, and I know this. But the door to true intimacy has been closed for some time. And when I say intimacy, I mean 2 people (or more!), who are willing to be so vulnerable with each other, that out of this place grows deep and lasting love and trust. Sometimes this is sexual, sometimes it is not.
I have issues with deep intimacy.
It has taken me a long time to trust most people. I spent years feeling like the rug was going to be pulled out from under me any second; always on alert, and definitely on guard. But still I met sweet Paul, and have managed to make some wonderful friends. I have healed in so many ways…
Yet there is more. Even now as I write this, my heart aches something terrible, with the deepest sense of grief radiating out from the pit of my gut.
Clearly, there is more.
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t scared. I might even throw in the word panic. When I first began to re-experience feelings in therapy 21 years ago, I had the most somatic reactions: nervous laughter, short and rapid breathing (my shit was intense), and the feeling that I was going to die. Eventually I learned how to be less fearful of this imaginary annihilation, as the process of feeling, and then integrating, such deep grief into my being, was beyond freeing: It opened my soul. It is why I am where I am today.
But this crap I have shut away, it’s as old and painful as anything I have known, possibly more so, and it’s been forever since I’ve immersed myself in this type of family pain. I see nervous laughter, short and rapid breathing, and of course, the feeling that I’m going to die, in my near future.
If, I can get the guts to go there.
I am superbly wonderful at procrastinating my emotions away…., as this is how I lived the first 26 years of life. Yet I must remind myself: Diana, you did just write that you deserve deep, intense love, on every level humanly possible.
I’ll keep you posted.