“Insecurity invents its own evidence and supports its own premises. No amount of someone else’s time and effort is enough to make an insecure person see the light and realize that the insecurity is unfounded. He or she must intentionally and deliberately challenge, understand and then choose to move past the insecurity.”
-Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert, (More than Two)
Me: OH FOR FUCK’S SAKE, FRANKLIN VEAUX, STOP LECTURING ME AND REINFORCING EVERYTHING ANYBODY CLOSE TO ME EVER SAID… I’ve been insisting for years there are magic words other people can say to help me feel good about myself, and now you’re just making me look like an ass here.
Me: Okay, how the hell do I fix this?
The first step, as always, was realizing that I have been full of it. I immediately apologized to Skyspook. “I’m so sorry,” I told him, “I’ve been such an A-hole.” For quite some time, I had been acting as if I could only browbeat and manipulate him into some superlative ill-defined standard of eloquence that I would be able to move through life as a normal, confident, self-worth-having sort.
“You weren’t an asshole. You’ve been suffering and looking for a way out,” he replied.
It was nice to be let off the hook. Still, I needed to figure out what was going on. I read some more of More than Two, and a little further on, co-author Eve shared how she gradually became more secure as a person – there were glimpses over time into how absurd some of her reflexive emotional reactions were, but it took a long time for her to really sustain this clarity. Eve made the analogy that she viewed other people who were close to one another as shedding a kind of light on the other that was illuminating and warm, but for some reason, people never really brought her in close and she was at a distance and not truly liked and valued by them. She recounts a time when she was on a 3-day camping trip with a dear friend, and in a moment of ambiguity/silence, she thought reflexively as she was prone to do (and I am as well), “I hope he doesn’t hate me.” And in that moment, she realized how silly it was to think such a thing because people don’t go away for 3-day camping trips with people they don’t like. Over time, Eve came to understand that she had been bathed in this light of friendship and connection for decades without ever realizing it.
I related so well to this. In general, I absolutely feel like no one likes me. This is in spite of the fact that I have a ton of friends, have never had difficulty finding people who wanted to spend time with me, and if anything have found that I run more often into the problem that someone wants to spend more time with me than I have available or really want to see them (i.e., there have been people who wanted to be very close friends with me that I was more wanting to see every now and then at maximum because I found them draining). Still, despite all of this, I grew up to consider myself to be a “small doses” kind of person that people could only tolerate in little bits. I suppose it’s probably a mixture of childhood abuse and a kind of unbridled earnestness that I cannot shake that makes any criticism stick to me and hit more deeply than I see in other people. I tend to believe my detractors. Of course, this is also a known side effect of abuse, so six of one…
I cannot see that my husband loves me. In my mind, all I know for sure is that his distaste for me is at least outweighed by the inconvenience that going through a divorce would be.
It is, as they say, a real problem.
And as I was thinking about that it struck me that this could very well be related to my feeling that I’m in the way. Not to self-objectify (but I live in BDSM/kink land and I’m consenting to this analogy, so whatevs, let’s do this) but, something you truly value always has a place. Let’s say you have a dresser that you have fond memories attached to because it belonged to a grandparent who passed. And let’s say it’s huge. Granted, that beloved dresser could be physically blocking the TV at any given moment as you’re moving other stuff out of the way, cleaning, etc, and maybe it annoys you or other people until you can rearrange things to make more sense, but… and this is important… YOU STILL LOVE THE DRESSER, THE DRESSER IS STILL IMPORTANT TO YOU. Even if it’s slightly obnoxious where it is at any given moment.
So I’m a living thing with volition and autonomy. Maybe I have done an obnoxious thing or assumed an awkward or embarrassing pose. This doesn’t mean I’m in the way, at least not in a way that matters and that I should spend so much of my waking emotional life worrying about.
I thought back to a recent Solstice party where I spent most of the night entertaining a new friend who didn’t know many of my social group and who had limited mobility due to a back injury. I got to see myself a bit through his eyes – he knew me only slightly and had never seen how I interact among my social group, even making remarks to the effect that I was very popular.
My friend G, who is a loveable, extremely entertaining fellow himself, upon seeing me, rushed me, embraced me, and we spun around in a dance singing George Michael as we often do (he bears a passing resemblance to George Michael of the 80’s, who was my 8-year-old girl crush, and “Freedom ‘90” is my consummate jam).
This is not how people that don’t like you behave. This is how my friends behave with me.
Sometimes it astonishes me how I believe the side with the shitty case (that no one likes me) when the evidence is so much better that I am beloved.
I sometimes find myself wondering how I am able to have relationships at all, seeing as I’m so profoundly damaged as a person. Much has happened in my life that should have destroyed my ability to connect with people altogether.
And then it occurs to me that I’m surely missing something here.
I’m not damaged per se.
What I am is a person who has been heavily challenged. And I have been able to overcome those challenges.
That’s what I should really focus on. I can’t see the future. I can’t know how or why things will change, only that they can and do change. And I’m not a traditionally religious person, so I don’t have faith that something or someone is watching over me and taking care of me. What I do have faith in is my ability to react and respond in a positive way to whatever adversity lies ahead. I have faith in my own resilience and ingenuity when my back is up against the wall.
If I let myself sit in there and focus on these things rather than on what I think are my weaknesses and defects, it makes me feel… dare I say… secure.
This is my narrow path to security. Now to pave it and connect it to other roads.