It was fifteen minutes before nine on a Sunday morning. I sat there at a diner table with my eyes anxiously darting from my phone up to the windows facing the parking lot. I glanced over at the gift card and the birthday card contemplating how I would bring up the topic. Finally, I see the grey SUV pull up and here comes my breakfast date.
She came in looking beautiful as always and sat down. I could not help but smile seeing her by simply being in her presence. I stood up and embraced her in a big bear hug. Her eyes lit up seeing the small gift on the table. We caught up with each other on the happenings of the last two weeks. It was a wonderful conversation as always. I finally mustered up enough nerve to ask, “Are you ready for the talk?”
I said it jokingly because she knew exactly what I was referring to. A few days prior, I asked her if I could check in with her about she felt about “us” and moving forward, but that I preferred talking about it in person.
This was not meant to be a bad conversation like to stop seeing each other. Nothing like that at all. I simply desired to share my thoughts and feelings with her. Do not get me wrong. She is an easy person to talk to and as non-judgmental as they come. It was not her at all. I instead struggled with my own demons over the last few weeks. This young lady and I have been taking things gradual and slowly feeling it out, for which she has my utmost respect. I am not an easy one to handle even at a slow pace. However, I felt the wall building itself back up to stop any progress. This was my attempt to prevent that from happening again.
I broke down my poor relationship track record for her into fear of others and fear of myself. During my childhood, my parents did not provide me with an “ideal” model. They constantly bickered and argued almost every day. Two of my four girlfriends cheated on me with my best friend. The other two reached a plateau between four to six months into the relationship because of my trust issues and unwillingness to engage in emotional reciprocity. It was simply difficult to let anyone in after experiencing so much trauma and witnessing/experiencing the pain of dysfunctional relationships.
As for me, I was afraid of the damage I could inflict. I am far from perfect on my end in relationships. If I made it past the emotional blockade in a relationship, I often became dependent on my significant other. I lost track of my identity. I isolated myself from my friends and family. I felt lost and confused. My judgment was often impaired and irrational. It was a mess. There was also a piece of me still struggling with a recent “addiction” to women and strip clubs that only subsided about six months ago. My dependent nature and addiction came at the expense of fulfilling an emotional void left by trauma, fear, and damaged relationships. It was my quick fix to a long-term problem. My avoidance to a void.
My lady friend sat back and listened intently. I could tell that she understood that this was not easy for me to talk about even though I am an open book most of the time. She thanked me for sharing with her and for her birthday breakfast.
On my way home, I felt uneasy. I felt disgusted. I thought the conversation would bring peace of mind. I imagined allowing her in would help in hopes of being emotionally vulnerable. Later that morning, the young lady asked if she could ask a few follow-up questions since it seemed comfortable talking about it. I said sure. I did my best to answer her questions. The more I answered, the worse I felt. I was horribly mistaken. I had just put myself into a position I was not meant to be in. I was unprepared and uncomfortable. I was confronting my inner demons head-on.
A flood of unresolved, repressed grief came over me. I knew what I was thinking and feeling was irrational. I knew I was ruminating. I knew the source of my torment. I rode the wave until I figured what I could do.
I thought back to a session I had with a teenage client earlier in the week. The topic of said session was facing your deepest, darkest fears. This young man struggled with a significant history of trauma and was nowhere near ready to face it. I discussed with him indirect ways to express his thoughts and feelings though. I decided to follow my own advice for once.
That is where my writing comes in. It provides me with an opportunity to separate myself from my thoughts and feelings. It gives me an indirect platform to share about my innermost demons. I am also grateful for my own insight. I caught the issue before it did serious damage. As always, being honest with one’s self is always key. I acknowledge I made a premature mistake in discussing these demons without much preparation. I thought talking about it would be enough of an outlet. I am not letting it get me down though.
Progress, not perfection.
-The Caring Counselor