Day 177: More Tears - The Boundaries of Love
Whew, last night was tough! I was on pins and needles through the evening not sure I wanted to talk to AF and knowing I needed to talk to her. I have a rule I follow that I don't call her in the evening. She is with her family and needs time for them. I text her to let her know I hope to hear from her, but I don't have an expectation she will contact me. If she is busy with family, that certainly comes first. Or, for that matter, if she would rather wait to talk to me later that's OK too.
But she did text me and we communicated for a good while about my posting. She was understanding and gentle. She also did a wonderful job communicating her boundaries, which is essential in my current state of neediness. We clarified my expectations. I think it was helpful. I hope it was helpful to her.
I apologized to her for my posting, for my need to be reassured. I feel like I have made her go over and over the same issue. She told me I didn't need to apologize.
Her next messages really got to me:
"You are not wrong to need attention."
"You are not wrong to want to spend time with someone who makes you feel good about yourself and safe."
I read that and tears immediately erupted.
We then talked about me needing hugs or needing to be held more often and her not being available necessarily when I feel the need. Of course my posting last night described an intense level of need. She said she feels bad because she's not as available for me as I need.
I realized something incredibly important when she said that. It's not that I need so MUCH affection; it's simply that I need to know it will be available at some time. So, if I ask it might not be now, but a time could be set aside. Adult Intrepid helps Little Intrepid be patient and feel cared for in between. Just knowing there is a time to come will take down the anxiety.
Little Intrepid's anxiety is the not knowing if it will be, if the need will be met at any point. She is accustomed to not knowing if her needs will ever be met. So, she latches on to what she can get when she can get it. It could be a very long time, years and years, until the next hug.
It was powerful for me to understand this and let AF know. I hope she understood. I think she did. She said:
"Think of me as a surrogate mother. I'm a little late showing up, but I can fill the shoes in some respects. I can only imagine how much pain you struggle with. It's so cruel what your mother did and denied you."
This started me crying again. The tears felt very remote, like they came from somewhere far, far away or someplace very deep. It hurt a lot! Man, crying is painful!
But, I explained to her I don't expect her to actually be my mom. And, I need to be able to mother her sometimes too.
We agreed on some boundaries and I felt very much relieved! It's incredible how important that is to me. Like a small child, I guess. Boundaries give me safety. It's good to know the communication rules.
We talked about my SI urge. I explained I was able to choose about it, choose not to SI, and the impulse has improved a great deal since before T. She let me know she worries about it getting worse or me having more difficult times in the next while (in light of my marital distress) that will trigger me.
I realized as we talked about SI-ing she might worry about me. It hit me for the first time in my life, my well-being really matters. Someone worries about me. Someone feels protective of me.
And, amazingly, I started crying again!
I promised her I would not SI again, or engage in any more risky behavior. I didn't want her to worry. I didn't want her to feel afraid. I wanted her to know I can take care of Little Intrepid and of Adult Intrepid. I can keep us safe, even if we're having a hard time, if we're in pain or scared.
This was a very different reason for me to consider taking care of me. Of course, I have thought about this for my kids too. I improved my life dramatically for their sake. I stopped drinking. I have been monogamous. I have taken care of my health against great, great resistance and fear. For their sake. But, it was another layer to improve my self care, a layer that said I matter not because of what someone needs from me. I just matter.
The tears flowed steadily for a while with that thought.
She said, "You don't deserve to be hurt by anyone, including yourself."
I realized as we were bringing the conversation to a close I feel sad because I was so hurt for so long that I can't handle being loved.
I curled up with a pillow and cried myself to sleep. I have never done that in my life as far as I can remember. I didn't even think that was a real thing. But, as I tried to relax, the tears kept coming. I'd blow my nose and lay back down. Then, as my mind started to quiet, more tears would start. I don't know how long this went on. I last looked at the clock at 1 am.
But, I felt lighter today. I can feel more grief in there wanting expression. I don't know when it will find its way to the surface. As I drove home today I thought, "Hmm, I was in a good mood today. Maybe I'm all done with the grieving." Wishful thinking, I guess.
So, I think what I learned yesterday is that I didn't learn as a child how to be loved, how to have boundaries related to love. I have to learn them now and it's scary. But, I'm not so frightened about it today compared to yesterday. I don't feel so ashamed today. I just didn't learn this, that's all. I can learn it and not only will she help me, but so will my T and so will my Portland Friend, and of course y'all.