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Losing steam, uncertain of my course.

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  • #378937
    Boris1010
    Participant

    Hi Forum Folke,

    Well… I’m 3 1/2 years into sobriety, and just now getting down to brass tacks with my Fourth Step, which I’m finishing up.  I’m also attending an AWOL (online), my first.  I had hoped to use it to “jump-start” my progress through AA.

    Problem I’m having now, though, is that there’s just so much relentless emphasis on “getting God” and higher powers… even that patronizing “Chapter to the Agnostic” claims to require no belief, but then proceeds to insinuate that whatever you come up with for a higher power, it’s just a place-holder until you “come to your senses” and finally “get God.”

    For awhile, I’ve been just stepping past any such references, using it as a place-holder word for my own concept of a ‘higher power,’ but it’s getting really tedious, and where rigorous honesty (especially with oneself) is the cornerstone of AA, I’m also starting to feel hypocritical and non-genuine.  It’s feeling like I’m just putting on yet another, newer mask, when what I’m trying to do is drop the masks and be more authentically who I am, instead of being who I need to be to fit in and be accepted.

    I have a higher power… but it’s not a positive; it’s more a negative.  It’s simply the realization that *I* alone with my unaided efforts can’t do it alone, that I need outside help to get sober and stay that way.  So my “HP” is simply ‘outside help.’  Not some angry, vengeful, bearded male deity sitting on high, ready to toss unbelievers into a sea of fire for eternity.

    Fortunately, my three groups are a pretty open and tolerant lot, or I wouldn’t have made it this far.  It’s just starting to feel really disingenuous and forced, and fake.  Especially where the getting and staying sober part is well behind me (turns out it was actually the easiest part, nothing like digging into what makes me tick, where things aren’t running right, and how to fix it).

    Too many of the Steps as outlined are of a “do this to get that” nature… and the “do this” part always seems to involve God.  Steps One and Two are fine, and were self-evident before I ever walked into my first meeting.  Forget step Three.  Four and Five are also good.  Skip Six and Seven.  Eight, Nine, and Ten are also very good.  Nix Eleven.  And Twelve is good, and essential to “keep the ball rolling,” both personally and as a program.

    I like the people I meet at my meetings.  I like the sense of belonging to something.  I like how it’s managed to pry me out of my shell and engage the world of people, instead of retreating into my little hole and engaging as little as possible.  I have a friend and a bunch of phone numbers I can call if I feel the need.  It’s done a huge amount of good for me… but I really think I’ve gone about as far as AA can take me without things starting to feel twisted and forced and fake.

    I’m not sure what could take its place.  Sure, there’s all kinds of online secular recovery sites; I belong to a few.  That format, however, was probably better suited to me at the beginning, when I was still actively avoiding social settings, than it is now.  I still dislike them, I’m always ill-at-ease and far, far too concerned with what others think of me… but there’s been progress in forcing myself out and into the world, and I worry that retreating from that and diving into online and virtual  (“Zoom” or equivalent) would cause me to lose ground.

    I’m happy with the ‘forward’ progress I’ve been making in AA… but it feels like the ‘forward’ momentum is stalling, due mostly to the religious slant and the phony feeling I get when going along with something I simply do not believe in.  I think belief is required for a process of this nature to be effective – – and I have none.  I’m very much in the Richard Dawkins camp when it comes to religion and God, so any God-based ‘solution’ or process isn’t going to do it for me.

    I recently lost a woman I was very close to (at least in my own mind I was close to her… apparently her mileage differed) in the program, and just a week or two ago I lost the best therapist I’ve ever had, after 2 1/2 years of hard work and some breakthrough progress.  It was through the VA, and when their people relocate, they are not allowed to “take their patients with them.”  So it’s adios, mi amigo.  Took nearly 20 years to find a therapist that was a good fit… nor sure I’m up to another search.  It’s just feeling like life is conspiring to stop my progress.  Maybe I’m supposed to take a break and look around?  Maybe something I’m missing that I’m supposed to get?  Universe has a funny way of forcing changes on people when they aren’t smart enough to make the needed changes themselves… and this might just be one of those instances.

    Don’t know.  Just feeling adrift, and scared that I might start losing ground.  Really don’t want to go back to where I was when all this started.  My own thoughts are just unproductively chasing themselves around in circles, so maybe some outside input might introduce some clarity… or just shake me loose from myself.

    #378942
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Boris1010:

    Welcome back! I will reply to you in about 17 hours from now. I hope other members reply before I return to your thread.

    anita

    #378945
    TeaK
    Participant

    Dear Boris1010,

    good to hear from you again! I understand your struggle with the AA’s view of the higher power, specially in helping heal addiction. I’ve suffered from an eating disorder for quite a few years, and my belief in God helped me partially, but it wasn’t enough to stop my ED.  What did help me was healing my wounded inner child. Because addiction is there to soothe the pain, and the pain is always, without exception, the pain of the wounded inner child. If you heal that pain – which might or not involve higher power – you have a very high chance of healing addiction too.

    You might want to check the Internal Family Systems therapy created by Richard Schwartz. It works with various parts of our personality: one is the wounded inner child (the most vulnerable part of our personality, which is in pain), the other is the protector part, whose role is to protect us from being hurt again (so we e.g. close our heart and don’t trust anyone, we pretend and aren’t authentic), and the third part is the so-called firefighter, which soothes our pain with various addictive behaviors.

    In that model, you don’t even need a higher power. However, you’d need a healthy adult self, who’d be able to act as a loving, compassionate parent to your wounded inner child. For some people, God or higher power take the place of that loving, compassionate adult self. People then talk about divine father or divine mother, who replace our not so perfect and even abusive earthly parents.

    #378967
    Boris1010
    Participant

    Hi TeaK,

    Funny (or maybe not) that you mention the inner child.  It’s precisely there that my life went from something I have wonderful memories of, to something dark and afraid, starting at about 10 years old or so… which has perpetuated to the present.

    I just got a copy of “Home Coming” by John Bradshaw, which is inner child work.  I intuited (which is how I do most of my serious ‘thinking’) that if childhood is where things went sideways, then that’s where I should at least *start* looking.

    With my departed therapist, I’ve learned a few things about myself.  My issues with hair trigger anger/outrage are a learned defensive response to anything which feels threatening, anything which is diminishing of me.  When I was a little kid, I was powerless over pretty much everything; anger *feels* powerful, even if it isn’t.  Better to feel angry and powerful than to feel afraid and powerless.  Or so my childish unreason went.  Worked well enough to get me through that I never “saw” any reason to change it (never got into the habit of self examination or questioning… just hanging on to get through the day).

    It’s been a minor revelation thus far.  I’m barely into it, and it feels like it was written specifically for me.  I hope it keeps on like this!

    I’ll certainly look up what you suggested; I like to cast a wide net when searching for help, and the more sources the better.

    Thanks for your quick reply, it’s appreciated… and nice to hear from you again, as well.

    #378977
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Boris1010:

    In your various threads, starting a year ago, on April 27, 2020, you shared that at 10 years old, after your parents separated, your “whole world came crashing down”, and as a result you became “intensely shy, withdrawn, socially awkward and timid boy”. You were later diagnosed with “an extremely high-functioning Asperger’s”.

    Wikipedia: Asperger’s is a previously used diagnosis of one of the Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs),  differing from other ASDs by relatively unimpaired language and intelligence . In 2013, Asperger’s became part of one umbrella diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5 (DSM-5). Autism is characterized by difficulties with social interactions and communication with people.

    This is what you shared about your subjective emotional experience through life in your threads since last year: “The more depressed I became, the more emotionally numb I became, absolutely indifferent to people.. just neutral, numb, indifferent. Plodding, marching… but never dancing.. Things are either bad, or not  bad, but never good. I absolutely cannot remember the last time I was excited over something, or eagerly looking forward to something“. In regard to your wife of now 49 years, you “don’t feel much of anything for her.. never really did… we do things together and have our little routines and rituals and all.. but it’s so sterile for me, no joy, no real happiness“-

    – what I understand today about the subjective emotional experience of a person suffering from Asperger’s/ an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is that the person often feels neutral, numb. indifferent, etc., sometimes feeling very anxious or depressed/very distressed, but rarely feeling any joy. The reason for rarely feeling joy is that a person suffering from an ASD rarely feels connected to another person (that’s what the disorder is about: difficulty connecting to other people).

    People are social animals, like dogs: when a dog sees another dog or a human, it is eager to connect, and anticipating the connection,  the dog wags its tail. It is joy in the wagging of the tail. A person suffering from an ASD does not expect to connect to another person, therefore, no joy, no wagging of the tail.

    Back to you, at 67, you met a 52 year old woman in AA, and you experienced “joy, anticipation, eagerness, a fierce desire to protect and nurture.. it’s like she threw some switch that somehow turned on all those emotions… I find myself crying.. or  just in joy of being alive. I finally feel alive and happy”.

    You wrote regarding not having her in your life: “The thought, now, of going back into that dead, gray emotional void is just intolerable”- that dead, gray emotional void is often the subjective emotional experience of a person suffering from ASD.

    You shared: “I’ve been living from the neck up for the vast majority of my life.. I’m quite literally a stranger to my own heart, emotions, and body”- the dead, gray emotional void is in the heart (the emotional part of the brain/ body). You lived much of your life in the rational part of the brain, strictly thinking.

    Your contact with the AA woman to whom you felt connected (a rare experience for you), was limited to AA meetings three times a week and to emails, texts and some phone calls, “but no more than that”. Yet, she “completely occupied (your) thoughts for over two.. years”. But as of late January 2021, “nobody has seen or heard from her. She’s entirely dropped off the radar, won’t answer emails, texts, calls… nothing”, and you were “absolutely in mourning over her disappearance”.

    Following her disappearance, you did what you have done most of your life, back to strictly thinking: “I’m wondering if A: I actually love HER, the woman, or B:) what I’m attached to is my mental image of her, the idea of her”, etc.

    In your April 29, 2021 thread, you wrote regarding your recent AA experience: “it feels like the ‘forward’ momentum is stalling.. I recently lost a woman I was very close to (at least in my own mind I was close to her..) in the program, and just a week or two ago I lost the best therapist I’ve ever had”-

    – I think that the momentum stalling is about you losing the woman you felt connected to, and then losing a therapist you felt connected to. Your tail was wagging, so to speak, whenever you anticipated contact with the woman, and then with the therapist.. and the wagging stopped when such anticipation. What you need is to feel connected to other people from time to time, to take the elevator, so to speak, down from above your neck to your heart, below your neck.

    anita

    #378991
    Boris1010
    Participant

    Hi Anita,

    Longest, hardest journey being the 18 inches from the head to the heart, or so I’m told.

    I see how you connected the dots and filled in some areas, and it makes sense to me.  I’m at a loss as to how to ‘connect to other people.’  It’s never been a deliberate act; it’s been more something that happens than it is any act of mine.  Look how long it took for me to encounter my first real sense of connection…

    And it’s worse than dropped off the radar.  She surfaced, briefly… long enough to ensure that I got the message to back off and cease contact.  “Cease and desist.”  From her sponsor, not even from her directly.  So it’s worse than simply disappearing.  There’s always hope of a re-appearance when there’s a disappearance like that… now it seems unlikely in the extreme that there will be.  Plus she’s on the other side of the country now.  Seems the attraction was mostly if not entirely one-sided.  Looking back, *now* I see signs that point to this… but I didn’t then (and still don’t now) trust my own ability to see such things and come up with an accurate picture of what the real situation is.  So I just tried harder and continued to hope I managed to say the right thing in the right way at the right time… or something.

    Makes sense to me – – that losing the two people I felt most connected to (whether that was an accurate assessment or not is immaterial) is leaving me feeling ‘lost and adrift.’  When I’ve been almost entirely focused on one thing for that long, and then that thing is suddenly gone, it leaves quite a void.  One that I’m at a loss to fill immediately.  That might be another reason I’m feeling stalled and disenchanted with AA: we met at our both of our first meetings — both ‘came in’ to the same meeting on the same night (thought I saw some meaning there… and maybe I did, but I also think maybe we’ve both done for one another all we were ‘meant’ to do.)   My entire history with AA has also been my entire history with her… they’re inextricably entwined in my mind.  Just feels like a completely different critter now.

    I continue to go to meetings (via Zoom… I host three weekly meetings), and still see a number of the ‘old crowd’ from meetings, but there’s a lot I don’t see, and one in particular who I was very much looking forward to seeing again isn’t coming back at all; he died in December unexpectedly in his early forties, just like my Dad did.  Jeez, I’m getting gun-shy at this point: seems every time there’s some degree of attachment – – they go away, one way or another.  I know… nothing’s permanent, or even lasts very long, other than relatively.  Still… to go most of my life without connection, and then in the space of 3 1/2 years to form three attachments, and lose them in that same length of time…. Maybe there’s a message there.  How many times must one get burned before learning to not grasp that hot object?

    Okay, I’m just bellyaching now.  I guess all I can really do is put one foot in front of the other, continue with what AA has become for me, seek more secular alternatives to AA (either as a replacement for or in parallel with), and wait and see if another connection forms.  For me, interactions with people are just that: interactions.  Continued interactions just pile up; it’s rare that any sense of closeness or connection happens, and when it does, it’s never because of anything I consciously or deliberately do… it just happens, and then I really focus in on it.  Hopefully I’ll get better at it, and not keep scaring people away.  (Okay, that’s not fair; I scared only one away; another was transferred, and the other one died).  Just seems like a lot of loss, all of the same kind, all at once.  Strange and unhappy.

    Thanks for your detailed and thoughtful reply… you always give me much to think about, and you also enable me to get a better overall view of things.  I’m mostly too close to see a bigger picture, and you always manage to show that to me.  It’s very much appreciated… thank you for taking the time.

     

    #378995
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Boris1010:

    You are welcome and thank you for expressing your appreciation.

    “I didn’t then (and still don’t now) trust my own ability to see such things and come up with an accurate picture of what the real situation is”- people who fit the ASD diagnosis have trouble deciphering social cues/ hints and vague communication. But lots of people who don’t fit the diagnosis have this difficulty as well, some are more lost in the dark than others, in this regard.

    You felt connected to this woman, maybe she felt no connection to you, and expressed it indirectly, in cues, for example, rolling her eyes or turning her head away from you when you talked to her. Maybe she expressed it verbally but vaguely. For example, she may have told you that she is not looking for a relationship with anyone,  but you didn’t notice the cues and didn’t interpret the vague communication to mean that she did not feel connected to you, and that she did not welcome your felt-connection to her.

    In the future, when you feel connected to a person, you can say to that person: I feel  connected to you, do you feel connected to me? You can further define to the person what you mean by feeling connected to him or her.

    In other words, give and ask for concrete, direct communication- that way you will not be dependent on cues which are difficult for you to decipher. You can explain to any person you interact with, whom you feel somewhat connected, that you were diagnosed with Asperger’s/ ASD, which means that you can’t decipher cues and you therefore need concrete, direct communication.

    anita

    #379009
    TeaK
    Participant

    Dear Boris1010,

    we’ve actually talked about the inner child on your previous thread, where you explained how your little paradise suddenly crumbled and fell apart when you were just 10 years old… I am glad that you like John Bradshaw’s book and that it seems to helping you.

    With my departed therapist, I’ve learned a few things about myself. My issues with hair trigger anger/outrage are a learned defensive response to anything which feels threatening, anything which is diminishing of me. When I was a little kid, I was powerless over pretty much everything; anger *feels* powerful, even if it isn’t. Better to feel angry and powerful than to feel afraid and powerless. Or so my childish unreason went.

    Right, you definitely felt powerless when that huge change came upon you at the age of 10 – your life was taken away from you and you couldn’t do anything about it. Everything that happened to you since was against your will, was violating you, starting from your father leaving, you having to leave your paradise island and move to a big crowded city, to a new school, with unfriendly class mates, and finally, having to live with a stepfather who belittled you and criticized you all the time.

    This was a huge shock to your system. From a normal, happy kid you became “intensely shy, withdrawn, socially awkward and timid”. But inside of you there was a lot of anger and rage for these things having been taken away from you, and it hurts even more when we lose something we once had. You knew what happiness was, and then you lost it. You knew what joy was, and then you lost it. I guess it made you bitter and desperate and helpless… Later you started using alcohol and drugs to soothe or numb that pain.

    But at the age of 30, you decided you need to stop, you didn’t want to become an alcoholic for life. When you stopped drinking, I believed what happened is that you cut off those emotions too: anger, rage, helplessness, desperation, disappointment, sadness… You couldn’t afford yourself to be destroyed by those intense emotions, which could only be tolerated with the help of alcohol, and so, you needed to cut them off, stop feeling anything. You said you stopped drinking in your 30s, and by the age of 36 you were diagnosed with clinical depression.

    I believe that’s the reason you got depressed – numbing of the unpleasant emotions. And since we cannot just selectively cut off the unpleasant emotions, we cut off our feelings altogether and become incapable of feeling the positive emotions either: joy, happiness, love…

    When you joined AA and met your lady friend, those emotions got unfrozen after many many years of hibernation. You started feeling joy and hope again at the prospect of being with her, and when she left without a trace, you were crying all the time, feeling a great loss – a loss that you already experienced when you were 10. You must have felt or are still feeling anger too, both at her, but also at your therapist (or the circumstances) for abandoning you. It’s almost like a replay of those old scenes, where you’re suddenly losing that which was dear to you.

    She was a person you projected your hopes and dreams at – the hopes and dreams that are now awakened again. And it’s good they are awakened! It’s good you’re not frozen any more. But she isn’t the one to save you, she’s not going to lead you to your promised land (or your promised island). You need to do that for yourself, Boris.

    I feel this has been already long enough, so we can continue talking about healing options. But anyway, my impression is that you need to allow yourself to feel all those emotions in a safe, therapeutic environment, and to have someone to witness you and contain you and be that loving, supportive, compassionate adult for you. That’s when the healing of your inner child will happen.

     

    • This reply was modified 5 days, 20 hours ago by TeaK.
    #379072
    Boris1010
    Participant

    Thank you, both.

    As far as signals that might have been missed… nothing I could directly see or hear.  More in the nature if things being really one-sided.  I feel most comfortable in emails and texts, where I can take the time I need to be sure I’m saying what I want to say, and she was a F2F or phone kind of girl.  Any response I did get seemed straightforward enough, nothing that would cause me to wonder if there was more there than was being said.  She’d ‘drop out’ for weeks at a time, with no replies to anything, then suddenly be ‘back’ and we’d be sending things back and forth, then it’d get quiet for a long time again.  I’d always wonder if I had said something to offend her, or crossed some line – – frequently asked her to let me know if anything was making her uncomfortable so I could knock it off… no, no problems, she said.  What contact there was was good… in-person at meetings was good… but she was always a little late in the door, and very quick to leave afterwards  – – no “meeting before the meeting” or “meeting after the meeting,” except rarely.  No spending time with me.  I guess maybe her actual behavior was at odds with what she was saying… “mixed signals” I believe it’s called… so I kept trying, and eventually she just left the area altogether.  Long stretch of no contact, and I was already mourning the loss, and one evening I sent a text just to bump her name back up to the top of the list in my phone, where it had been for so long.  Absolutely was not expecting an answer… but I got one anyway!  Back and forth a few more times, and then her sponsor texted me with the “cease and desist” request, which I have honored.  I may be slow, and not be able to make sense of what I’m seeing all the time, but *that* came through loud and clear.

    I feel really bad about all of it now.  I started out just wanting to offer support and friendship, as she was getting none at home (he was being a real SOB about it), and I got the distinct impression that she didn’t have many friends.  It was about her, and wanting to help her.  Somewhere along the way, it shifted and became about me, and my feelings, and what I wanted.  And then it went bad.  Funny… even entering into things, I had this ‘small still voice’ that seemed to be saying that she’d be gone at some point, that this wouldn’t last… so I saved all her emails and texts, feeling that one day they’d be all I’d have left of her.  I brood over whether to preserve them, or just delete them all and ‘move on.’  I just hate closing a door that there’s the chance might open again… goes against my nature.  I’m not a bridge-burner, never have been.  I’m loyal to a fault to people, places, and things; sheesh, I got teary over getting rid of an electric hand-mixer for a newer one, because it had fed our family for so many years, and it actually still worked… like throwing away a friend.

    No, no anger at her loss – – I blame myself entirely for it.  Nothing there but sadness and regret.  Not her fault if I wasn’t ‘the one,’ or even anyone.  I will certainly take your suggestion that I be more open and direct in my feelings, should I develop any.  I’m not really looking… it found me, not the reverse.  But should lightning strike twice…  And that IS a good way to put it: I was ‘projecting’ my hopes and desires ‘onto’ her… entirely one-sided.  Seeing what I wanted to see, and sweeping under the rug anything that was uncomfortable or just didn’t fit my little fantasy.

    Can’t really work up much anger at the VA, either; I can understand why they want local patients to stay local – – imagine the nightmare logistics trying to keep track of who’s seeing who, across States and time zones and all.  Plus, it would make billing a nightmare, I imagine (probably the main reason…)  Again, just a huge feeling of loss.  I hope I can continue to build on the foundation we created.  He seemed to think I’d be fine if I continued on as I have been, and he was right far more often than he was wrong, so I’ll just keep going.

    I know, I do know that; nobody can save anybody else (something else I was trying to do for her… and trying to love her into loving herself…)  Only I can do what needs doing.  Others can only point the way, offer viewpoints from an outside view, not emotionally involved, and suggestions as to what might help… but putting it into practice is entirely up to me.  The old, “You can lead a horse to water…” I have to do the searching and examining and questioning – – nobody else can.

    For the first time… I have chosen to sit with these difficult emotions, and let them run their course.  Sometimes I feel like I can see why I worked to hard to choke off all emotions… but emotions have something to say.  Killing the messenger and ignoring the message is not a very productive way to go through life, is it?  I worked through much of this with my therapist before he left, and what’s left is basically ‘cleaning up’ from the initial mess, and focusing on inner child work.  I didn’t link the feeling of being stalled with these consecutive losses (and the association with childhood losses).  I’m glad you showed me that… it will help going forward.

    Again, my sincere thanks to you both!

     

     

    #379082
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Boris1010:

    You are welcome. “and then her sponsor texted me with the ‘cease and desist’ request, which I have honored. I may be slow, and not able to make sense of what I’m seeing all the time, but *that* came through loud and clear… I saved all her emails and texts”-

    – I wonder what was in the texts/ emails you sent her that led perhaps to her sponsor sending you a message of cease and desist, and I wonder if the texts and emails she sent you beforehand included hints or cues regarding not wanting you to contact her anymore, cues that you may have missed. If you want to, you can copy and paste here any part of the saved textual/ online communication between the two of you (in a he said/she said format), while emitting personal details such as names, and I will read and let you know what I understand.

    anita

    #379118
    TeaK
    Participant

    Dear Boris1010,

    you’re welcome. I’m glad you’ve decided to sit with the difficult emotions, instead of shutting down and going into that grey void again. It’s human to love and lose, and then love some more…

    No, no anger at her loss – – I blame myself entirely for it. Nothing there but sadness and regret. Not her fault if I wasn’t ‘the one,’ or even anyone.

    Not her fault if you weren’t “anyone”. These words show that you have a pretty low self-esteem, Boris. And it showed in what you’ve shared about yourself before:

    I also have a personal history of not knowing what I want… discovering something, becoming interested, immersing/learning, gearing up to do… and then just losing interest altogether right when it comes time to actually start DOING the thing I got interested in… so I absolutely do NOT trust what comes out of my head, either.

    Head = untrustworthy, Heart= unknown territory… I simply do not know what to do, where to turn. 

    I’ve long felt myself ’empty’ or ‘hollow,’ like there’s nothing *but* the facade I project in public… like there is no ‘wearer’ of the many masks.

    I think I’d enjoy writing… but I find I have nothing to say. 

    Music is another means of expression, as are art, and dance, and poetry… and in each case, I find that there’s simply nothing inside that wants out.  Nothing to say. 

    Managed to land on my feet (strictly through the efforts of my wife, who of the two of us is the only one that possesses a working brain and the drive to put it to use).

    So, according to yourself, you are: hollow, have nothing to say, wearer of masks, don’t trust either your heart or your head, don’t possess a working brain or the drive to put it to use.

    I think that before you can have a quality relationship – be it romantic or friendship – you would need to work on your self-esteem. It’s been damaged. I don’t know if the damage started happening when you were 10, or even earlier. How were your parents treating you before they divorced? Were they mostly loving or they criticized you (or one of them was mostly loving, while the other criticized you)?

    With the divorce and you losing your secure base and your stepfather coming into the picture, things definitely took a turn for the worse. Your self-esteem took a plunge, and it never recovered, it seems. Have you worked on your self-esteem in therapy?

     

    #379133
    Boris1010
    Participant

    Hi Anita,

    I’ll go through them and ‘clean them up’ as needed.  But… I think she decided to ‘make the break’ shortly after she left the area… and was probably thinking about it even before then.  After her relocation, here followed a long ‘silence’ which led me to believe that she was gone for good, and when I “bumped” her name back to the top of the texts list in my phone (where it had spent so much time – – found it depressing to see her name slipping lower and lower on that list) by sending a “miss you and hope you know what you’re doing” text… she answered.  A few exchanges, ‘can we talk again?’, “yes, I’d like that…” then nothing again, and I tried to call (she was always telling me to call, and I did – – but not once did she pick up, and this time was no exception), left a brief message — again, nothing of consequence, ‘miss you, call me if you get the chance…’ and it was closely following that that I got the politely-worded C&D request.  As I said, I’ll review them and see what getting them up here will entail.  Never tried transferring a text from a phone to a PC.  I’ve got three years’ worth of stuff… not sure how much of it would be relevant, or where I might start looking for “signs.”  I’ll let you know.  And I thank you for the offer!

    Hi TeaK,

    Well, by “not anyone,” I meant ‘anyone special’ to her, not so much that I’m a nobody.  Though you aren’t wrong about my very low self-esteem.  Comes hand-in-hand with a lack of self-confidence, except in areas where I *know* I have expertise and knowledge acquired the hard way, then I’ll stand my ground – – but if I got into an argument with someone about what’s black and what’s white, if my ‘opponent’ were vehement enough, I’d actually start doubting myself; back up and review, to see if maybe I *am* mistaken somewhere.  That self-assurance of “knowing what I know” is mostly absent.

    I was a normal, happy kid until 8, when my mom grabbed us and split.  The stepfather showed up not too much longer after that, and he was okay for maybe a couple of years, but gradually it became obvious that he didn’t think much of me at all (especially in comparison to *his* son).  I don’t think he knew how to relate to a shy, quite, retreating, bookworm, sports-hating, not-very-active kid with little drive or ambition.  *His* son, of course, was my polar opposite… a “proper” boy.  He had a list of derogatory pet nicknames for me, and often expressed his opinion that I was never going anywhere in life, that I’d never amount to anything.

    Eight years of that, coupled with the same amount of time as a social outsider in school and with few friends, and bingo: low self-esteem.  Adding drugs and alcohol to the mix *did* make me feel better, but only for as long as the ‘high’ lasted, then I was back with a crash, looking forward to the next high… the only relief I knew.  The only place I felt accepted.  Never fit in in social situations (too apprehensive about appearing foolish or committing some gaffe or being rejected altogether).  I was hyper-competent at work, but worked alone based in a van, driving all around New England.  Did interface with my customers well enough (*they* loved me, anyway, as I put their needs before anything else, including my bosses desire to maximize profit by any means available, including theft and deception, which I flatly refused to go along with – – and suffered for it.)  Also, those interactions were pretty superficial, centered around the equipment I worked on.  Easy-peasy, provided it stayed there.  So a lot of continued failure at “fitting in” or feeling comfortable anywhere also eroded my self-esteem, gradually convincing me that there was just something really wrong with *me.*  And the longer it went on, and the more I remained distressed by social settings, the more cemented-in-place that conviction became.

    No, we didn’t do any self-esteem work; anger came first, and there was a breakthrough in that area just before he had to leave.  I think I can continue forward and make progress with that.  Once I have a reasonably solid grip on that, that low self-opinion is next on the hit list.

    #379134
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Boris1010:

    You are welcome. Three years of text history is too much to go through, better not. The texts during the one month before you received the cease and desist message would be enough.

    From what you shared today, that you sent her the message: “can we talk  again”, and she answered: “yes, I’d like that”, followed by her not answering your texts or calls- seems to me that she may have been too fearful to say No, so she said Yes, and then behaved according to the No she failed to articulate. Next, her sponsor articulated her No to you in his own words (the cease and desist message).

    anita

    #379135
    TeaK
    Participant

    Dear Boris1010,

    what have you discovered about your anger? You said earlier: anger *feels* powerful, even if it isn’t. Better to feel angry and powerful than to feel afraid and powerless. Or so my childish unreason went.

    At whom did you feel angry, which kind of made you powerful? Was it your stepfather? I guess you felt anger only till your 30s, when you started feeling more and more depressed and numb. Or you felt anger later too?

    Regarding your lady friend, it does seem she sent you mixed messages, because when you asked “can we talk again”, she said “yes I’d like that”, but then when you called her, she wouldn’t pick up the phone. It happened in the past too – she’d tell you to call but she would never pick up. And she never called you back, I guess? Also, you said she’d never come earlier or stay longer after the AA meetings. She never wanted to spend time with you in person, which is also telling. So that would be a cue.

    However, when you told her she is more than a friend to you, and asked her whether that’s a problem, she said “Nope, no problem at all.” Suggesting that she might be interested. But soon after that she disappeared and stopped all contact. So yes, she was sending you mixed messages, or rather, she didn’t tell you explicitly she’s not interested, so you were hoping for a long time, till her sponsor finally told you to leave her alone. For some reason, she had a problem telling you herself. Maybe she has a problem saying No to people, but rather, disappears on them, doesn’t pick up the phone etc.

    I will certainly take your suggestion that I be more open and direct in my feelings, should I develop any. I’m not really looking… it found me, not the reverse. But should lightning strike twice…

    You weren’t consciously looking, but there’s a strong longing inside of you for love and intimacy, and you projected that longing onto her. You started daydreaming and obsessing about her, even though she hasn’t been too encouraging. So although you weren’t looking consciously, something in you was looking intensely, craving, desiring. And it’s possible that that something could find another object of limerence – and then the “lightning” would strike again.

    You know what I mean? It’s you who are looking, even if not consciously… If you want to spare yourself from another round of daydreaming and possibly getting hurt and disappointed, you’d need to address that part of you which is craving for love and attention and intimacy and validation. And that part, of course, is the inner child in you (what else would I say? 🙂 )

    Anyway, I just wanted to stress that again – the inner child is the gateway to self-esteem and all those good and beautiful things waiting ahead…

     

    #379146
    Boris1010
    Participant

    Hi Anita,

    Well… just discovered that “paste” is not allowed in this forum.  At least, *I* am not allowed to do so. Unless there’s some trick here that I’m must not aware of… Tried to paste the “goodbye” email here (a short paragraph), and it wouldn’t.  Reloaded the page and tried again… still no.  Then “Cut” the entire incomplete post, and tried to paste it back in… still no.  Going to make it a bit problematic to enter texts / emails.  Tedious at least.  I’ll see if I can pick the most relevant ones and enter them manually.

     

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