Monday, December 19, 2005

What We Do Is Secret, Part 2

Excerpts from my 4th Step:

I assumed, from the beginning, that "the One" was out there, that I'd find her and then live happily ever 41, I have never not been in a relationship--a serious, committed, all-or-nothing relationship--since the age of 18. Does that sound a little compulsive? (There was a stretch of a few weeks in college during which I was not committed--but the parental script, the fear of being unloveable, the fear of being alone, borne of my inability to feel complete in myself--drove me into a relationship very soon. It was a blissfully happy couple of weeks, I distinctly remember.)


As much as I think I want this true love, this marriage of true minds, this Vulcan mind-meld, I have a part of me that wants to be alone, that won't allow anyone to get close. This is the part of me I imagine developed when I was a kid and had no sibling to play with and no kids my age close by. It's now the part of me some people would say plays with my imaginary friend, my Higher Power.


I can remember in one unbelievably codependent relationship being afraid that my enamorata would not like the way I did her homework.


I feel like I don't know what "unacceptable" [behavior] is, because I have no reasonable dividing line, because I accept everything, because I'm afraid if I don't she won't love me--I'll be unworthy....That feeling of perpetual unworthiness...I have done enough Al-Anon work to know it was a lesson I learned in my family, which placed great emphasis on achievement and education. I've gained enough Al-Anon maturity to understand that a lot of
good has come from my feelings of unworthiness...for they have driven me to learn, to work hard, to do more than I ever thought possible.

On the other hand, it simply isn't true that I have to earn the right to exist, or to earn God's love. It isn't true that my ultimate worth has any relation to my professional accomplishments or level of education.


It seemed so natural I never thought about it. You have to earn a living, you have to earn some lady fair's hand, you have to earn the respect of your peers: therefore you have to earn God's love. The religion I got mixed up in at 14 didn't quite put it this way; they claimed God loved you but would still punish you hideously for eternity....The sin and salvation business sounded a lot to me like having to earn God's love, even if according to the fine print it wasn't...

Sound familiar? Manipulating loved ones? Manipulating God? Unable to trust that they love me? Unable to feel totally loved even when I know better? Feeling perpetually unworthy and driven by that feeling into irrational, obsessive behavior?....I was a perfect sucker for the fundamentalist spiritual abuse scam and now feel that I've been a perfect sucker for the true love scam.


Talking with Kali during a walk today, I understood that a) the worst thing I could do in my family growing up was to let down the facade--(of Cleaverdom--by arguing with my parents, getting in trouble at school, etc.) and b) that the most valuable commodity, the highest status symbol for my family, was The Esteem of Others.


So here's another layer of the onion, and I'm done, because I'm so confused by now that I don't know which way is up. I was talking with Fiorenza yesterday...and she said she thought that I might be afraid to be loved. Auggh! Yes! I recognized what she was saying...recognized it in the way that when I'm complimented, I'm always so,
so uncomfortable....Letting myself be loved means becoming vulnerable....It also means dealing with the fact that I'm not perfect and never will be, because love means being totally present to someone whether I'm "ready" or not.


So many, so many times when someone's made a gesture of love to me I've shrugged it off or dodged it--
reflexively. Not thinking, "ooh, this is uncomfortable, I want out," but changing the subject or making some inappropriate joke without thinking about it, as the first instinctual reaction....

I'm searching for love, but convinced I'm unworthy of it. I want to give myself to someone in love, but I'm afraid to be loved back. But some woman's eventually going to make the mistake of loving me anyway, then she'll find that I'm an impostor, so I strive to stay in control...maintaining the I was taught.

NEXT: What happened when I read this whole (immense, nonsensical) thing to my sponsor. Same Angel time, same Angel channel.

P.S. I am heading out to Helter Skelter Land for my x-mas holiday, and won't be back until nearly New Year's Eve. I have every intention of bloggin' from the Left Coast, but...don't be surprised if'n I don't. With the competing Red State, Blue State, alcoholic, non-alcoholic, denial-alcoholic factions of my family...I will have my hands full. But I will be thinking of you.


  1. Happy hols! May reality dawn on you ;)

  2. As I read this post I was nodding and nodding and nodding....

    I identify with a lot here -- I'm an only child, too, raised to be "perfect" -- but one big difference is that I spent 13 years living alone (after a marriage gone bad), with a couple of relationships that lasted a year or two and to which I didn't want to commit beyond friendship with sex. Then Mary came along and my vulnerability meter went wacko.

    Ten years later we're still learning. But it's the joint problem-solving that always gets us through to the other side. (Plus, when we disagree about something we usually find we're both right -- from different angles.)

    It was by being alone, though, and observing keenly those around me, that I learned (a) the entire universe did not behave like my family; and (b) based on what I was observing, I could get in touch with what I found to be acceptable and unacceptable.

    Good luck in Helter Skelter Land!

  3. humble worm, happy holidays! I think reality's dawned, but I'm wearing very dark glasses... :)