February 6, 2021 at 2:46 pm #374232
Thank you, Brandy. I am hopeful for good news too.
Going to text her in the morning to see if she needs to get out of her home (and out of her head) for a bit.
RyanFebruary 8, 2021 at 9:46 am #374310
Dear Anita & Brandy,
Her doctor’s office just called. Her precancerous cells haven’t gotten “any worse,” so they’ll see her again in 3-months. At least she can breathe a bit now.
RyanFebruary 8, 2021 at 10:14 am #374314
Wikipedia has an entry on what your friend’s doctor was concerned about: Cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN), also known as cervical dysplasia, which is the abnormal growth of cells on the surface of the cervix that could potentially lead to cervical cancer. Any part of the entry may be useful to her and/ or to your understanding of the condition. The entry states that in the U.S., between a quarter of a million to a million American women are diagnosed with CIN annually, and most develop it between the ages of 25 to 35.
anitaFebruary 8, 2021 at 12:22 pm #374327
Thank you for that information! I will do some reading after work…
She has been dealing with this for years now. She said this morning that it had “been worse” in the past, but at least now she doesn’t need to worry about surgery at least for the next few months.
It’s awful when ones body betrays them (in a sense).
RyanFebruary 8, 2021 at 12:34 pm #374329
You are welcome. From what I read and understand, precancerous cells are not cancer cells: if left alone, they are not invasive= they will not spread to other regions of the body. They are simply abnormal cells that could, in time, undergo changes that would transform them into cancer cells. We all have precancerous cells somewhere in our bodies.
I assume (and I am not a doctor) that precancerous cells in this or that area have a higher statistical chance to transform into cancerous cells than in other areas.
anitaFebruary 8, 2021 at 7:02 pm #374352BrandyParticipant
That’s great news from the doctor, Ryan! Thanks for the update.
BFebruary 15, 2021 at 10:11 am #374695
Morning Anita & Brandy,
First, I want to again say thank for all your advice here. This is a tremendous space and I truly appreciate you taking the time to counsel here. Not sure how I stumbled upon TB but I am thankful that I did.
I have decided to abandon the notion of any type substantive relationship with my coworker. I feel that I invested in it far too quickly, and her words and actions have made it clear that we will likely remain rather casual friends. While it felt as though we were growing closed, she began distancing herself—both in communication and socially—since we returned from the weekend getaway to the cabin. Learning that her divorce was only finalized the week before the getaway made her detachment a bit more logical. The emotional (and slightly physical) intimacy may have been something she was not ready for so soon after becoming officially single. I’m not quite sure but it would make sense.
She left yesterday (Sunday) afternoon to fly south for the week to visit her best friend for the week. I wished her save travels when I awoke in the morning but never received a reply, which did irritate me. I asked her last Monday if we could grab dinner some night during the week since I knew she’d be gone, to which she replied, “I’m sure we can ☺️” She never really had time during the week, so I asked her on Thursday morning if she wanted me to come by with some food while she packed, to which she replied, “I’m not going to be much for company I’ll just be running around and doing chores so there’s nothing left to do over the weekend when I have to work.”
I ran a few errands after work, so I packed a few sliced of homemade banana bread and a book she had wanted when she came by for dinner and ran it by her place since I was out. She wasn’t home so I left it on her door and texted her. She replied, “Ahhh. Sorry I had some errands to run. I’ll be home here in a little bit tho. :)” She ended up texting “Thank you!” a few hours later. I figured she was out—possibly on a date—but she had later said a girlfriend had come by after she returned from errands. Not that it matters.
As I said, I think that I invested too quickly in the relationship. The first “date” in late November was so effortless, and the five hours flew by, that I did not consider her feelings. Afterwards, I was left wondering, “What will she mean to me? And what will she be in my life?” After the year in isolation due to the pandemic and being new to the area—and the work I did in counseling in late 2020 to work on being more vulnerable and connecting with people—left me hungry for companionship and the connection with another human. I chose to ignore the difference in ages, the fact that she was newly single, her battle with her eating disorder and her addiction to nicotine. Even after her text before our second “date”—about “just dipping her toes back into dating” and not feeling certain dating a coworker is the best choice for her—it felt like at least our friendship was deepening. And perhaps it was?
Her week away will be beneficial for her, as she wasn’t able to travel last year and hasn’t been able to see her best friend since 2019 I believe. It will be good for me too, as it will give me time to reframe things in my mind, as I won’t have the opportunity to see her this week. It’s been a rather emotionally taxing relationship: The of the first “date,” to the return to Earth before the second, to the feelings of growth as the weeks went by, to the intimacy of the weekend getaway, to her aloofness and telling me that she sees nothing “long term with us,” and her broadening expanse that has followed.
It’s certainly made me a bit melancholy, but I should not find it surprising. I’d, on occasion, but her little practical gifts, and while appreciative, she’d often ask if it was something I had lying around or if she needed to repay me. She has never really let me know the real her. She has always kept me as an emotional distance. For example, last week, I asked if she was still smoking weed. She replied, “I haven’t been really partaking much – I don’t like the people I have to get it from. They creep me out. Oh the joys of being female 🥲 and the joys of suppressing something that doesn’t need to be suppressed so it gets pumped in with unsavory characters.” I was going to ask what she is “suppressing” the next time we hung out, but the prospect has not yet presented itself. As she is soon leaving her second job, it is my hope that she will continue to distance herself from the “unsavory characters” and the drugs.
The phase of infatuation and teenage butterflies has passed, and I am hopeful that the emotional warmth will soon pass. It’s unfortunate but it is necessary. I need to refocus on finding another job out of this isolated area, and possibly meeting someone who wants to let me in. Someone of substance who isn’t afraid to let me in.
She reminds me of the character Clementine from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and her quote:
“I’m not a concept. Too many guys think I’m a concept or I complete them or I’m going to ‘make them alive’…but I’m just a fucked up girl who’s looking for my own peace of mind. Don’t assign me yours.”
It was confusing for me because it felt like we were close when we were together or spoke on the phone. However, once we were apart, the chasm opened again, which certainly messed with my emotions. For example, we spoke via FaceTime for about an hour on Wednesday. I texted her afterwards to say, “I like that we can have these deep conversations without the awkwardness. Serendipitously crossing paths with you is something I treasure immensely, and it’s brought me some comfort peeling away the layers with you.” She replied, “Aww me too! For all of the above ☺️” It has never felt like I was being “played,” but more so that she enjoys the intimacy on her terms and parameters.
I do not regret this relationship. It was coincidence or a blessing that we met when we did, or that I felt comfortable enough around her to be vulnerable. After being alone for so long, it was nice to find someone beautiful, intelligent, and intriguing that I connected with. (I know she felt the connection too even if she is unwilling to acknowledge it beyond the superficial.) While I hope(d) that our relationship can deepen, I am not willing to invest any more of myself in it when she too does not want to invest more of herself in it. It has often felt one-sided, as she was unable or unwilling to connect. I thought that I could be a good influence in her life, and maybe I was/am? While disappointing, I know that it would/will be an even more difficult transition if/when she meets someone and her time available for me would stop. It’s one of the perils of being in a relationship with someone of the opposite sex. Well, a relationship that felt more emotionally substantial than a simple friendship between coworkers.
It is a difficult pill to swallow but one I must choke down…February 15, 2021 at 11:07 am #374697
You are welcome. I think that your current discouragement regarding the special friendship with her has a lot to do with her (1) leaving yesterday to travel south for the week, and (2) not responding to your safe-travels text yet. Seems to me that you are over-reacting to the week separation from her, and to her not texting you back (she may not have been able to, or she was too busy to text you back so far).
“It was confusing for me because it felt like we were close”- People in a special friendship or in a relationship are not always close to the same extent, and at times, they are not close at all. Within a relationship we have to endure the natural, unpreventable fluctuations in closeness vs distance.
“once we were apart, the chasm opened again, which certainly messed with my emotions”- your use of the word chasm indicates to me that at the perception of some distance from your object of attachment, you perceive a huge distance. A little distance/ separation feels like a big, threatening distance/ separation.
You gave an example of a text you sent her on Wednesday, a 34 word, thoughtful text, to which she replied with an 8-word text and an emoji- is that what bothered you about her reply, that it was not as thoughtful as yours and much shorter?
“she was unable or unwilling to connect”- I understand you being discouraged about having a long-term romantic relationship with her because she told you that she doesn’t see having that with you, but in the context of a relationship (your previous threads) and in the context of a special friendship, I see that you have trouble connecting and staying connected with a person, fearing separation on one hand, and initiating separation on the other hand.
anitaFebruary 15, 2021 at 11:44 am #374699
Yes, your observations are sound, rational, and logical! I do tend to overthink (hyper analyze) in life, rather than let things just continue down their obvious path. And, yes, a part of me is miffed that she did not return a text. She mentioned early in the relationship that she is bad about returning texts, and I suppose that I got a bit spoiled because she would often return mine in a timely manner. Her recent reluctance to return my texts certainly feeds into my insecurities. And I wasn’t bothered by her 8-word response to my “thoughtful text.” I appreciated that she felt the same.
I agree with your reply regarding the commenting about my “trouble connecting and staying connected with a person.” Yes, if I feel that illusive connection with someone, I have (in the past) often pushed them away. Then, I feel guilt and loneliness and the lost connection. Guilt from the self-imposed idea that I was stringing them along, and loneliness from the feeling of them “seeing me” but not really seeing me. (Obviously, they could not “see me” because I never allowed them to.)
I read something after I made this last post was about loneliness. That one of the strongest yearnings people have is to be known and to be seen. The comfort and the affirmation that comes when someone really knows you, or sees you, and gets you. It’s me feeling “different” and never feeling validated. With my coworker, it felt like she both saw me and accepted me immediately. This was due to me not being afraid to be vulnerable and her empathic nature. (Her, as an empath, may explain her emotional distance as closeness and intimacy can be overwhelming.) And allowing her to see me was exciting and I chased those feelings—even as she chose to keep me at a distance (or control the nature and level of emotional intimacy).February 15, 2021 at 12:02 pm #374700BrandyParticipant
You’re welcome, and I agree that TB is a great place to get advice.
I really like what you posted above about loneliness; rings so true to me. You’ve been lonely for a very long time and your coworker represented a way out from all this loneliness. You’re stuck at home tele-working in an isolated area during a pandemic and you crave social interactions, just like anyone would.
I need to refocus on finding another job out of this isolated area…
Exactly, Ryan. Keep at it. I hope you’re able to find a new job and relocate soon. Hang in there.
BFebruary 15, 2021 at 12:38 pm #374702
Yes, it makes sense that for her too, “closeness and intimacy can be overwhelming”.
Closeness scares us when early in life a person we felt very, very close to hurt us. Like I suggested to you earlier: before you felt distant from your mother, you felt very close to her (all young children feel very close to their mother). She then hurt you by ignoring you, not seeing you, rejecting you, and/ or otherwise, and you learned to be scared of closeness. So, you want closeness and you are scared of it at the same time. That early hurt needs to be processed for the fear to lessen.
anitaFebruary 21, 2021 at 9:42 am #375022
Before I wrote here this morning, I serendipitously, stumbled upon this clip from the Matthias Barker podcast via TikTok, and heard this quote by John Mark Comer:
As long as you live in the prison of where you have to get what you want to be happy, no person, no marriage, no job, no life, no identity, no sexual experience, no income bracket, no travel experience, no passport. Fill in the blank. Nothing will ever be able to always give what you want, and you will run over people. Sabotage people. People will become objects by which you try to self-gratify and feed your narcissism. Even if it masquerades as ‘I’m falling in love. Or this is great. I love these people!’
His words hit me hard due to their accuracy. This was often how I spent my life: Trying to find people or experiences to fill the void inside me. While I didn’t want to believe that I was narcissistic, I realized in the last few years that narcissism was a core trait. This may have partially originated from the distance my mother kept with me, which may have fed into my feelings of low self-esteem as I grew. (Low self-esteem was something I worked hard to overcome, and it wasn’t until my late 30s that I finally felt that I had a handle on it.)
I feel this quest for happiness—and my work in therapy last year to work on connecting and being vulnerable around people—made for the relationship with my coworker friend to be more stressful than it should have been. As I’ve written, perhaps I jumped in too far too soon without understanding the nature of the relationship? Perhaps I forced things (e.g., the kiss on the first date, the cabin, the little gifts, etc.) without appreciating that she was solely focused on her growth and evolution since her divorce and recovery from her eating disorder? Perhaps I imagined something there—that “connection”—when there truly was not one?
I haven’t heard from my coworker friend since the days before she left for her trip. She returns today and I imagine I won’t hear from her until we return to work in the morning. While I don’t embrace social media as many others do, we are “Facebook friends,” and she has not posted there since before she left. I believe she needed a break from life here and just wanted to focus on her time there with her best friend.
Her time away was good for me too. The physical distance between us allowed me to divest a bit from the relationship. Something had changed in her since we returned from the cabin. Yes, there her explicit declaration that there would be no “long term relationship,” and that anything physical would extend only as far as hugging. However, there was an emotional retraction as well. She would not text unless it was something work-related or something that concerned her, and the week before she left was the really first week we had not hung out since we began hanging out in mid-November.
I may be wrong, but I feel like she may have felt the beginnings of something for me but cast those feelings aside to be practical or to protect herself. She may enjoy my company and like me as a person but does not see a chance at a long-term relationship and doesn’t want to put her heart through the pain of another relationship that will not go the distance. The long embrace as she was leaving after dinner here (the night of her Pap screen) may have been her way of saying both thank you and goodbye, as we have not hung out since. I don’t know. I enjoyed our time together, as I think she did too, but perhaps she needed to take a step back.
I guess the point of writing today is to say that her week away has given me a chance to reflect and reframe things. While a part of me does hope that we can remain friends, and possibly grow closer as friends, I need to continue to focus on moving somewhere else and finally putting down roots.
I am happy to have met her when I did, as someone else may have been seeking a companion, which I don’t know if I’m ready for that. Yes, companionship would be fantastic, but can I be a good partner while I’m still seeking my place in the world? This person, as I believe my coworker did, would feel my narcissism and I could sabotage the relationship as I often did in the past. My coworker friend is beautiful, intelligent, driven, and many other positive qualities that fed me. And while I overlooked her negative qualities, I may have sacrificed too much of myself at the chance of a relationship with her. Especially if/when sex may have become involved and muddied the waters.
She mentioned in our FaceTime chat the Friday before she left that she had plans to quit her second job now that she has received a pay raise and paid off her debts. That her second job exhausts her and leaves her with little free time—especially now with Spring right around the corner. That working in a brewery causes her to drink too much, and as I wrote here before, the nature of the foodservice industry gives her access to marijuana. The text from her I shared here before:
I haven’t been really partaking much – I don’t like the people I have to get it from. They creep me out. Oh, the joys of being female 🥲 and the joys of suppressing something that doesn’t need to be suppressed so it gets pumped in with unsavory characters.
At least for me, there was an unusual connection to her, and I’d like to see her live a cleaner life and live up to the potential I see in her. I wish that we could have gotten to know each other better and grown closer and maybe we will. Or maybe we won’t and that is okay too. I need to continue to work on myself before I jump in with someone.February 21, 2021 at 12:21 pm #375035
The quote you posted starts with: “As long as you live in prison“, and later in your post you wrote: “the distance my mother kept with me”. I am thinking about your emotional childhood experience as that of a boy being trapped in an interpersonal/ social-isolation prison, surrounded by nothing, suspended in social void.
You wrote: “While I didn’t want to believe that I was narcissistic, I realized in the last few years that narcissism was a core trait… This person.. would feel my narcissism”-
– I see nothing narcissistic about you, Ryan. I see an interpersonal/ social void in you, a prison of sorts, in line perhaps- if I was to guess at diagnosis- with (a high functioning) autism spectrum disorder.
“my work in therapy last year to work on connecting“- having been imprisoned as a child in a social prison/ void, you’ve had trouble connecting to other people ever since.
“perhaps I jumped in too far too soon without understanding the nature of the relationship? Perhaps I forced things… Perhaps I imagined something there- that ‘connection’- when there truly was not one?”- with the help of counseling and work, you are like a person exiting a real-life prison for the first time, not knowing the ways of the world: how to shop, how to ride a bus, how to pay bills, etc.
You are unsure about the interpersonal/ social ways of the world: how to interpret a person’s words and actions, how to act, how to react, how to connect, not knowing.. how interpersonal relationships work.
anitaFebruary 21, 2021 at 1:29 pm #375036
Dear Ryan, continued:
According to www. cambridge cognition. com/ blog/ social cognition: an important but overlooked aspect of cognitive function, social cognition is the ability to identify other people’s emotions, typically from vocal or facial expressions, as well as infer more complex mental states of other people.
“Social cognitive deficits have traditionally been linked with autism spectrum conditions. However, a recent paper from Cambridge Cognition suggests that deficits in social cognition are exhibited across a range of neurological, psychiatric and development disorders…
“The paper, ‘Social cognitive dysfunction as a clinical marker…’ published in Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews.. reported that.. across these patient groups, deficits in social cognitive domains were broadly similar in magnitude to those previously reported for more established aspects of cognition, such as memory and executive function.”
In your posts, Ryan, you often described in detail, your ex and your friend-co-worker’s vocal and facial/ bodily expressions, quoted their words.. all in effort to have the reader help you understand the woman’s feelings, intentions.. her simple and more complex mental states. You needed help with your social cognitive deficits all along.
anitaFebruary 27, 2021 at 1:19 pm #375361
Thank you, Anita. I did not ever connect my childhood experiences to social cognitive deficits, or rather that they would lead to a “deficit.” Hopefully, the therapy and my work help to fill this void inside me.