What to Do When a Request is Ignored?

Arius

New member
Four more things:


1. I posted earlier without having read Gala's second message. Wanted to say that actually my penis curve COULD be part of the issue in question (although it was actually just one example of many many times she has done a thing with someone that I wanted to do), so that was an oddly specific example that turned out to be very helpful.

2. The love languages thing is a concept I am familiar with and may also be a factor. My love language is touch, and hers is words of affirmation. I forgot to analyze our interaction through that lens, so the reminder is helpful. For sure it is the case that I am getting a lot more upset because this issue involves physical intimacy, and that probably doesn't make sense to her at all. And it's also possible that my words have upset her a lot more than I would expect.

3. She never agreed to the request. She mainly ignored it, then told me that she already felt like she'd given me plenty of empathy. She does this Wile E. Coyote thing where once she tries something once, she can never do it again even if it might actually work the second time. So basically she gave me some empathy once like 2 years ago, and is now loathe to do it again.

4. Since a number of people have expressed confusion about how I saw pictures of her and her other partner having sex, perhaps I should explain. We both belong to Fetlife.

In case you're not familiar, that's a kink site, kind of like facebook for kinky folk. People routinely post pictures of themselves doing sexy / kinky things. There's forums, etc. And a feed, where random images of my partner pop up sometimes. I tried "unfollowing" her before, but I would still see things without wanting to through mutual friends. I have decided to create a sock account so that I can still participate in the forums without having to be exposed to her photos.
 

KC43

New member
Perfect example of "a language I do not understand". Might as well be Swahili.

To my ears, this is akin to saying "Water is only wet when I want it to be".

I'm with River on the sex and intimacy thing. Humans release oxytocin when they have sex (and when they breastfeed). Oxytocin is a hormone that is meant to induce bonding and basically makes people fall in love. So if you're human, I don't see how sex could not be intimate.

In my strong opinion, the "I need to get the f out of here" impulse people feel after having sex with a stranger is discomfort around being super vulnerable and feeling loving feelings (induced by oxytocin and other hormones) towards a person you barely know, who hasn't earned your trust. I suppose shame could be another factor, but I don't think it's the sole one.

Different people, different ways of connecting with others. I generally do not easily form emotional connections or attachments to people. There are people in my life who I consider friends who I sometimes forget even exist, because I don't have a strong enough connection to sustain the emotions and thoughts about these people when they and I aren't in regular contact. I have zero connection with my parents, and often go a month or more without any contact with them, without even realizing it's been that long.

At the same time, there are some people with whom, when I meet them, I feel an instant "click" and a sense of "This is a person who belongs in my life." That's a rare occurrence, but those are the people with whom I tend to have relationships and put in the additional emotional labor to keep the relationship functional and (mostly) healthy.

For me, in order for sex to be an intimate act, I have to already *have* an emotional connection/attachment with the other person. The "click" people are the ones with whom I consider sex intimate. If it's someone I meet at a play party and I'm fucking literally just for fun, there's no emotional connection there, and one isn't, as Jane said, "automagically" going to form just because he sticks his bit into my bit.

I'm going to have to do more reading on the oxytocin thing, because while I am familiar with oxytocin (I have two kids), this is the first I've read about oxytocin causing "ooh, love!" feelings when fucking. But it might be worth remembering that, while human bodies do have some commonalities, not all bodies work the same way, and that includes chemicals and hormones. Otherwise, there wouldn't be chemical imbalances causing mental illnesses, or hormone imbalances, or that kind of thing.

And the discomfort after having sex with a stranger doesn't necessarily have anything to do with chemicals. I know plenty of people who routinely fuck strangers and don't feel a bit of discomfort or "embarrassment" about it. I also know plenty of people--primarily women--who have been taught, "Sex is bad, don't do it, you're a nasty slut if you want sex or enjoy it," and experience a fuckton of shame and embarrassment when they act against that conditioning.

If it's someone who has experienced sexual trauma, that shame is increased because first of all, something that, according to other people, makes them a nasty slut was done to them against their will, and maybe that means those people were right and maybe the trauma was all their fault for being that nasty slut in the first place (and that thinking can be present even in young children; I was 4 the first time I had that line of thinking going through my head); and second of all, they're *choosing* to do something of their own free will that was previously done to them *against* their will, so they start to wonder what that means about them? Does it mean they actually liked the assault?

So I would say that societal conditioning about what is and isn't okay for people to do with their bodies, possibly coupled with having experienced sexual trauma, has a whole lot more to do with feeling shame about sex with a stranger--or with anyone--than chemicals. But I'm not a scientist, so I'm speaking just from my own experiences and from a fairly large amount of reading I've done on the subject.

sex toaster

As always, GalaGirl has given excellent advice. But this phrase stood out to me, because I can totally relate. GalaGirl, may I use that phrase? I know a couple of guys who could stand to hear it...

Sex is not, automagically, intimate for some people. For others it can be ...sometimes. For instance, if someone put an extension of their body into a mucus membrane orifice of another person, suitably covered with a thin layer of latex to reduce risk of infection, is that "intimate"? Because my dentist puts his gloved finger in my mouth every time I see him, and I don't think either one of us thinks that is "intimate". (Even if I find the end result, clean teeth, to be highly pleasurable!)

Maybe it is a female thing? Women, throughout history, have had to use their body as a commodity - trading sex for protection, social standing, a family, financial independence, etc.

Kissing, for me, is a far more intimate act than coitus...

This. Because again, for me, sex is not intimate if it happens with someone with whom I don't already have an emotional connection. I'm more likely to kiss someone with whom I *do* have that connection, but also... Kissing just feels different. It's hard to explain. But I feel a rush of happy feels when I kiss someone, or if they hold my hand while we're walking down the street, that I simply do not feel during sex, sometimes not even during sex with someone with whom I do have an emotional connection. For me, I guess, sex is an *objective* act, while kissing, hand-holding, snuggling, etc. are *subjective* acts. Still probably not explaining it well.

These are your interpretations of subjective experiences. It is good to be mindful of the effects of sexual trauma - but those effects can be very, very different. The being "embarrassed after having sex with a stranger" confirmation of your suspicion I am going to have to call bullshit on. It is possible to be embarrassed about an act for MANY reasons. Perhaps she is embarrassed because you think "normal people" don't behave that way and she is actually completely and utterly fine with it (therefore "broken" in your eyes...:rolleyes:

Also possible. When I met Hubby, there were sexual things I had zero issue with doing, until he started saying things like "That's only for teenagers" and "Married people don't do that." *Then* I felt shame about those things, because my husband was the person I trusted most, and was also at the time my only template for anything resembling a healthy view of sex, so I figured he must be right. But even without that, seeing that someone you love and trust is repulsed by something you do leads to a pretty strong chance that you'll feel shame about doing it.
 

KC43

New member
The most useful thing I got from GalaGirl's message is the notion that underlying all my pain, and buried in my expression of that pain, is an implicit idea about what my partner "should" be doing with her body, and how she "should" be sharing it.

I realized that this is true, and that it's wrong of me.

When I started to unpack that implicit should, here's what came spilling out:

I believe that when you love someone and are in a sexual relationship with them, you "should" prioritize their sexual pleasure. You "should" want to know what turns them on, and you "should" do these things as often as you reasonably can, unless you have some really good reason not to do those things at all - with anybody.

Kudos for doing the emotional work to unpack all of this.

My response to the idea of prioritizing someone else's sexual pleasure is... No. I prioritize *my* sexual pleasure, and expect *them* to prioritize theirs. That doesn't mean we don't discuss likes and dislikes, and it DEFINITELY doesn't mean we insist on the other person doing things they don't want to do. And it does mean that sometimes we compromise and do something we don't want to do because we know it will make the other person happy.

But the key to that is, it's a *choice*, and at the root of that choice is that *my* sexual pleasure and *my* bodily autonomy trumps anyone else's in *my* choices of what to do. Just as I would hope that a partner's sexual pleasure and bodily autonomy trumps mine in the choices *they* make. If they aren't experiencing pleasure and are uncomfortable or unhappy about something we're doing but they're doing it just because they're prioritizing my pleasure...I'm not going to experience pleasure, because I'm going to know that *they* aren't. Part of considering your partner's sexual pleasure--which I'm not saying you shouldn't do, just that *your own* pleasure should be your first priority--is experiencing pleasure when you see that they are.

As an example, I'm not a fan of oral sex, giving or receiving. That's mostly because until a few years ago, it was a PTSD trigger for me (I did a crapton of work to overcome that as a trigger), and partly because... eww. You piss out of that thing and you want me to put it in my mouth??? And I don't feel much differently when it comes to a partner doing oral sex on me. But I have a partner for whom oral sex is one of the most pleasurable sex acts they can do. If I were prioritizing his pleasure, I would give in and suck his cock and let him go down on me every time he wants to, but *I* would not enjoy it most of the time, and because I would feel like it was an obligation, it would probably start triggering me again. (Feeling like I don't have a choice about a sex act is usually a trigger or at least brings me close to the breaking point.)

On the other hand, if I *never* sucked his cock or let him go down on me, *he* wouldn't get as much enjoyment out of sex. Each of our enjoyment and excitement about sex feeds the other's. So he's content to accept "no" for an answer if he asks for oral and I'm not feeling it; and I've worked to reach a point where sometimes I get excited about the thought of how excited *he'll* be if I do oral with him, so we do it. Each of us is prioritizing our own sexual pleasure, but part of *my* sexual pleasure is seeing his, and part of *his* sexual pleasure is seeing mine, so we make compromises and adjustments for each other.

So what's really happening here is 1) I have some expectations about how she Should behave that she isn't meeting, and 2) these expectations and her failure to meet them are setting off all my fear of abandonment triggers and feeding into my hypervigilance. (Because of some childhood abuse, I have trouble trusting that anybody really loves me, and I am constantly seeking evidence to the contrary.)

Oh, man, can I ever relate to this. Hell, your sentence in parentheses, I could have typed myself. Overcoming that lack of trust, and trying not to have expectations of my partners beyond them treating me with respect, is part of the work I constantly do, with the help of a therapist.

Reading this entire post of yours gives a context for your first post that helps me, at least, make a lot more sense out of it. Thank you for sharing this part.

I was finally able to gain access to a therapist through social assistance, and we're going to work on my fear of abandonment and hypervigilance.

I'm very glad to read this, and I hope it's beneficial for you.
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
Arius,

My post was not a critique. I know a person cannot write the whole story in a few posts.

It was more me guessing “maybe it's something like this?” and encouraging you to be more active in this relationship or let it GO since its been years now and you don't sound happy in it. And either way? Considering working on your conversational startups and communication skills. I think those skills would help you in ALL your relationships.

Just trauma survivor is a challenge. With a trauma person HOW you talk to them can trigger and throw up defensive walls and then you are off on some "side" conversation and never getting to the "original" conversation you wanted to have.

Being with a trauma person who ALSO is burnt out social worker who ALSO is dominating with "can't tell her what to do" attitude at times who ALSO speaks a different love language who ALSO does not do the bare minimum amount of work that is required in order to maintain a complicated kinky poly relationship with you?

... that is a tough relationship. :(

You have a LOT of things going on. This is not a single issue thing.

Arius said:
I was finally able to gain access to a therapist through social assistance, and we're going to work on my fear of abandonment and hypervigilance.

I'm glad to hear this. I do sympathize with your pain. Yet Internet people can only help/guess but so far. For many issues that overlap I really think a professional is best person to help.

Arius said:
The most useful thing I got from GalaGirl's message is the notion that underlying all my pain, and buried in my expression of that pain, is an implicit idea about what my partner "should" be doing with her body, and how she "should" be sharing it.

I realized that this is true, and that it's wrong of me.

Sounds like a breakthru to share with the counselor maybe?


She becomes cold and distant precisely when I need reassurance.

That resonated for me. I dated a guy with fear of abandonment issues. He would NOT work on them. He wanted me to be his life raft person. And I was ok being supportive IF he was working on them, but I did not like him latching on to me so hard. I found it suffocating. He would tell me I would get so cold when I was angry. I would get angrier inside. Why?

Because "growing cold" was me holding IN all this anger because I did love him. I come from hot head kinda people. I knew blowing up at him would trigger his things, so I was trying not to. So it was REALLY annoying to me to not be appreciated for my efforts on my side AND be asked to do MORE when I was already doing what I could.

Because I would much rather have a cow, blow up, and then *I* can feel better. Than be holding it in so he could have some space without triggers. So I'm supposed to keep a lid on it to not trigger him AND do more work like reassure him? When he was triggering HIMSELF with some of his thinking? I am not SuperWoman. I am human.

I was willing to do that for a while and take one for the team IF he would move on to therapy and work on his stuff and his thinking. He never did, I got tired of boxing myself in. We were just NOT compatible.

The passive things I said were based on frustration with this dynamic, which I find irritating but don't know how to change except by working on my very deeply-rooted fear of abandonment.

Then I encourage you to work on your fear of abandonment thing so you can free yourself to speak up and tell her NO and participate in the relationship more authentically instead of pussy footing around and taking things you dislike just from fear of being dumped or abandoned.

Don't YOU box yourself in like that.

Arius said:
I don’t know anybody who a) does social work and b) has a properly functioning adrenal gland and happy relationships. And I know a LOT of social workers.

Me either. All the ones I know are ALL messed up in health. The job is VERY hard.

I hope things get better for you one way or another.

GL!

Galagirl
 
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FallenAngelina

Well-known member
I was finally able to gain access to a therapist through social assistance, and we're going to work on my fear of abandonment and hypervigilance.
FYI, the fear of abandonment is a big part of the reason my partner ends up calling a lot of the shots in this specific relationship.

You've mentioned your abandonment issue quite a few times in this thread, yet you set aside River's question, which gets to the heart of what abandonment fears are all about. You are hyper focused on HER behavior, when HER behavior will never soothe you enough to move through this pervasive fear. She could never stand on her head, understanding you enough or doing sex in any position enough to erase the entrenched story you've got going on about your terror of her leaving you. You can analyze her and this relationship from here to eternity and all of that will never move the ball down the field as much as some reflection on River's question.

Who in your family life, as you were growing up, withheld their "validation," resulting in your distrusting your own feelings and needs so much? How did you become so dependent on one withholding person for such "validation"?

Validation here doesn't mean that you perceive your feelings not to be valid. Seeking validation here means dependence on this one troublesome person for your emotional security. You need her like your life depends on it. Why? You're hyper focused on this one withholding person for your emotional safety. Why? Where did that come from? What are you trying to show yourself? What might you be struggling to heal? None of this is about her, although she does provide quite a colorful and tremendously engaging arena in which to wrestle with this issue. I strongly encourage you to shift your sights from the drama you're both acting out here and put them on the question of what you're attempting to get out of putting yourself in this arena at all.

Fetlife allows and even encourages multiple accounts, so there's no such thing as a sock puppet there. Your accounts are both aspects of yourself. This might be another topic of reflection for you that could bear some fruit regarding your emotional safety and health.
 
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River

New member
And I do appreciate very much what you've written about validation, but I think it misses the mark. I'm not sure you've understood me.

Perhaps.

What I hear you saying is that you're yearning for more empathy and compassion--and understanding--from her. Is this right?

It's quite possible that she's not quite capable of providing the level and kind of empathy, compassion and understanding you desire. Her limitation in this respect seems to be triggering (I would guess) a wound from your past which has never healed (yet), which is likely the source of your abandonment fears.

Oftentimes, folks who were not met with adequate attunement -- or sensitive, empathic, compassionate rapport -- in infancy or childhood will pair up with someone who also doesn't attune with them adequately. The current relationship becomes a kind of mirror of the earlier one, and triggers the original wound. (I know this dynamic well from my own past experience!)

When I recognized how I was acting out my early abandonment trauma in my first "romantic" relationship, I kept hearing folks say (In person and in my reading...) "You need to love yourself better / more". But I found such advice weirdly confusing -- since my model of love centered on one person giving something to another. How could I make myself two people, so that one of me could give to the other of me?

Eventually I came to see and frame it all very differently. I came to understand that I can attune to / with myself in exactly the way I needed / wanted to be attuned with with others. In other words, I could meet my own needs, fears, wants, etc., with tenderness, compassion, understanding and some kind of inner rapport. But this takes a lot of practice over time to achieve if one has been deeply wounded by abandonment early in life, as I had been. (I was not literally, physically abandoned -- but neither of my parents were, at the time, capable of the kind of attuned nurturance I needed.

And this is where the tough, crucial stuff happens. You see, when we are not attuned to as we need when we are infants or children ... guess what we tend to learn to do? (And this really sucks!!) We learned to abandon ourselves. It's a tremendous tragedy, but that's what we tend to do in almost every case where we were abandoned as children or infants.

What's more, we generally have no idea that we have built up a habit of self-abandonment. It dwells in the shadows -- where it is hidden in order to keep us from feeling the pain we didn't know how to be with back then. It dissociates, in other words. It fragments away from our conscious living.

The process and practice of self-compassion, self-kindness, self-nurturing, self-rapport, self-attunement is, partly, the process of turning toward the original wound rather than abandoning ourselves every time that wound (buried pain) gets triggered. Like any skill, one begins with little bits. You don't have to do it all all at once. But little by little you learn the skill of not abandoning yourself (your own hurt and pain -- your needs, your expressiveness, etc., whatever you're abandoning). And the more you can do this with yourself the more you can and will be doing it with others. It is a beautiful dance that awaits -- a dance of sharing weight, of being truly together with others while also being with and as yourself.
 
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JaneQSmythe

Active member
...but I didn't consider sex intimate and still don't, unless I'm having it with someone with whom I'm *emotionally* intimate. If it's someone I've just met, or someone I'm just friends with, it's fucking, plain and simple. It feels good, and it's enjoyable, but I don't consider it intimate.

Perfect example of "a language I do not understand". Might as well be Swahili.

To my ears, this is akin to saying "Water is only wet when I want it to be".

I am in KC43's camp, my response to River's "akin to" is that it is more like saying: "Air is only wet when it is humid." OR "Air is only humid when it has a high water content."

River may be living in a rainforest where air is always wet, but some of us live in more temperate climes.

Does every sex worker feel intimately involved with every client they service? That would be exhausting! I could, perhaps, see an argument that sex is intimate for the client - although I think that it is more likely that, for many, they are paying for "false intimacy". If all sex is intimate, though, then I guess they are getting what they pay for..:rolleyes:

Perhaps this is a semantics issue: River, do you not believe that there is a difference between "Fucking" and "Making Love"? Perhaps what you are feeling is that if it isn't intimate then it isn't really "sex" - so it is something else? (That I would call Fucking and you might see as...using a person as a living sex doll? Masturbating using someone else's body? I phrase these using the negative word "using" - but if the "using" is mutual and consensual then...?)

Another question for River - because I am curious, you don't have to answer - what other activities, besides sex, do you consider intimate? Are these things ALWAYS intimate too? Or could you do them with someone that you wouldn't also have sex with - your mother/father/best friend/etc.? Or with people that you would never see again/random strangers?

[For the record, while I don't see sex as "intimate" by definition, I understand that it "always is" for many people. Deep and revealing conversation (i.e. vulnerability) is an "intimate" act for me (although I can do this with relative strangers if I will never see them again) - but this intimacy is not reserved for people that I also have sex with. I can have intimate conversations with family members and people I consider "intimate friends".]
 
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River

New member
I am in KC43's camp, my response to River's "akin to" is that it is like saying: "Air is only wet when it is humid."

River may be living in a rainforest where air is always wet, but some of us live in more temperate climes.

Does every sex worker feel intimately involved with every client they service? That would be exhausting! I could, perhaps, see an argument that sex is intimate for the client - although I think that it is more likely that, for many, they are paying for "false intimacy". If all sex is intimate, though, then I guess they are getting what they pay for..

Perhaps this is a semantics issue: River, do you not believe that there is a difference between "Fucking" and "Making Love"? Perhaps what you are feeling is that if it isn't intimate then it isn't really "sex" - so it is something else? (That I would call Fucking and you might see as...using a person as a living sex doll? Masturbating using someone else's body? I phrase these using the negative word "using" - but if the "using" is mutual and consensual then...?)

Another question for River - because I am curious, you don't have to answer - what other activities, besides sex, do you consider intimate? Are these things ALWAYS intimate too?

I'll respond over in the General Poly Discussions section, in the thread titled "Framing Intimacy".

http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=35932
 

JaneQSmythe

Active member
Thanks! I will check it out . (NOTE: I have been revising thie above post since I made it - so more info may have been added since River's reply).
 

JaneQSmythe

Active member
... Less complicated and it might be a nice break. Sometimes when one has a demanding brain job, kink is VERY appealing because you get to surrender and SOMEBODY ELSE does all the thinking. That can feel refreshing...

This.

I don't consider myself "kinky" really. (Despite the fact that I am poly and like group sex). My line is "it's not kinky if I do it".

BUT the only draw that BDSM holds for me is that I DO NOT want to have to make decisions unless the are "important" - at work I make really important decisions all day long. At home I make all of the financial and future planning decisions. Those are ALL of the decisions that I am willing to make.

dinner? sex positions? home decor? shopping? vacations? - Don't. Fucking. Care. I am sure there are options that I would prefer. If you know what they are, then it is nice if you incorporate them into your planning. But I would seriously rather eat/do/own nothing than have to make another Fucking Decision today.
 

JaneQSmythe

Active member
"You can make the argument that I chose to be in the profession that I am (I did), but they also chose to be in a relationship with someone in that profession, and they benefit in that they have absolutely NO responsibilities other than supporting me emotionally and mentally, while I support them physically and financially."


I didn’t choose to be in a relationship with a social worker. She BECAME a social worker after we’d been dating for about three years...

To be honest, I saw that response coming..and had a response typed up but thought that it added volume without much input.

And to be clear, I would NEVER date a social worker again.

Which then begs the question...why are you dating one now?
 

Arius

New member
I want to thank you all for helping me through this. I believe every participant in this conversation gave me something good to chew on, and I've grown a lot through this dialogue.

It's been an emotionally intense few days, and I'm physically exhausted. I don't even have capacity to catch up on the latest comments on here right now.

So I'm going to rest, maybe for a few days, and come back when I'm ready.

Arius
 

Arius

New member
Over the past week, I've come to realize that a major issue at the heart of this recent conflict with my partner is the fact that I tend to get very emotional about how and with whom my partner chooses to share her body, and to perceive certain of her choices as a personal attack. My expression of these thoughts and feelings then constitutes manipulation and reinforces oppressive gender dynamics. I don't want to do this any more, but I struggle to know where to begin.

Does anybody know how to detach from strong harmful emotions? I'm speaking of an Eastern philosophical concept here - freedom from desire. I want to work on this, but I don't know where to begin. It also concerns me that I feel like I need to achieve enlightenment in order to make this relationship work. Is there some other way?

I've committed myself to having faith in her love for me. I think that will go a long way towards lessening the intensity of my reactions, because I think the reactions ultimately stem from my paranoid belief that her behaviour is evidence that she secretly doesn't love me.

However, I'm still having trouble reconciling a few things:

If she loves me, why would she so consistently behave in a way that indicates that she doesn't care about my pleasure and/or my feelings? I can sort of short-circuit the downward spiral by having faith in her love and practicing gratitude, but it keeps coming up again and again because my brain needs an answer to the puzzle. I don't understand her behaviour, because it's so far removed from how I behave, and my brain won't leave it alone until it makes sense.

Here's a less emotionally-loaded example: suppose you really love parties. (Bit of a weird example for an introvert to pick, but I'm going with it.)

One day you hear through the grapevine that your best friend is hosting a huge party. Literally everyone you both know is invited - except you. You know that your friend knows that you love parties, yet you were not invited. I mean, it would be totally cool if they weren't into parties and weren't having a party and NO ONE got invited... but they clearly are into parties, so why are you being excluded? It feels a bit icky to confront your best friend, but you decide to do it anyway because it's really bothering you.

"Hey, I heard you are having a party this weekend... I'm just wondering why I wasn't invited."

To which your best friend responds "My party, my choice" and then refuses to provide a reason and gets mad at you for being so presumptuous as to invite yourself.

Now, for sure that WAS presumptuous of you, which is why it felt icky to ask. But wouldn't you (or any reasonable person) want to know why you weren't invited to your best friend's party? Wouldn't you also doubt whether this person was really your friend - even if they said, "I'm your best friend" every once in a while? I mean, if you had a party, you would for sure invite them - isn't that what friends do?

I think part of the issue is that for her, love, intimacy, and sex are separate things. For me, they are welded together, in the same way that when you're friends with someone, you invite them to your party. And I still absolutely cannot understand how they could be separate. I don't want to discard the relationship because of this difference - I want to work on it, to solve it and move forward. But it just makes no sense to me.

Maybe I can accept that it doesn't make sense. But I really don't think I'm going to relax and let go until I understand it. I'll just perpetually be working to prevent myself from freaking out about it.
 

Arius

New member
(Feeling like I don't have a choice about a sex act is usually a trigger or at least brings me close to the breaking point.)

Kevin, I truly appreciate what you wrote and shared.

The sentence I quoted really brought it home for me. I often don't think of the ways in which her history of sexual trauma might be influencing her choices and the way she relates to me. I just forget. It should have occurred to me, but didn't, that the things I said and the way I was interacting with her might have actually badly triggered her and probably explains most or all of the anger I received when I was expecting compassion.

I think I do understand why sex isn't intimate for her. But I still just don't have any idea what it would be like to think that way, or what kind of choices a person would make under those circumstances. It's an alien perspective to me. (That doesn't make it abnormal or wrong, and I am sorry for pathologizing it - though I do prefer my approach.) Does that make sense?
 
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Arius

New member
You are hyper focused on HER behavior, when HER behavior will never soothe you enough to move through this pervasive fear. She could never stand on her head, understanding you enough or doing sex in any position enough to erase the entrenched story you've got going on about your terror of her leaving you.


Seeking validation here means dependence on this one troublesome person for your emotional security. You need her like your life depends on it. Why? You're hyper focused on this one withholding person for your emotional safety. Why? Where did that come from? What are you trying to show yourself? What might you be struggling to heal?

Karen - I appreciate you offering me your definition of validation, which is quite different from the one I was operating with. I mostly ignored River's question because of that misinterpretation of her meaning.

So the person, the answer to River's question, is my alcoholic, borderline mother. (This isn't a new revelation for me, which is another reason I mostly ignored River's question - although I do think it is definitely worth reflecting on some of the other questions that follow from it, and I'm glad you drew attention to them.)

Basically, I think I learned how to love people from a toxic, clingy, person. Actually, if I think about it, it seems like I tend to bounce back and forth between Mom Mode (clingy, overly dependent, needy) and Dad Mode (cold, detached, uncaring, unfeeling).

I do not subscribe to the Freudian idea that this is my subconscious trying to resolve a conflict or achieve a useful goal. I believe it is simply learned behaviour.

So the question for me is - what does healthy behaviour look like? How can I change? Who can I model myself after? The problem is that I don't know. I've been trying to think of who I can learn from, and nobody comes to mind. A big part of the reason I'm on this forum is that it helps me a lot to have the perspectives of people who didn't have alcoholic parents with BPD - people who know how to love like a healthy, normal person. Because I never learned that, and there's no amount of inner probing that is going to teach it to me - the information I need is not inside of me.

Again, I do think having faith in her love even when my brain is analyzing her behaviour and screaming "she secretly hates you!" is one big thing I can do.

Any other ideas? Books you'd recommend?
 

Arius

New member
What I hear you saying is that you're yearning for more empathy and compassion--and understanding--from her. Is this right?

...Eventually I came to see and frame it all very differently. I came to understand that I can attune to / with myself in exactly the way I needed / wanted to be attuned with with others. In other words, I could meet my own needs, fears, wants, etc., with tenderness, compassion, understanding and some kind of inner rapport. But this takes a lot of practice over time to achieve if one has been deeply wounded by abandonment early in life, as I had been...

And this is where the tough, crucial stuff happens. You see, when we are not attuned to as we need when we are infants or children ... guess what we tend to learn to do? (And this really sucks!!) We learned to abandon ourselves.

What's more, we generally have no idea that we have built up a habit of self-abandonment. It dwells in the shadows -- where it is hidden in order to keep us from feeling the pain we didn't know how to be with back then. It dissociates, in other words. It fragments away from our conscious living.

The process and practice of self-compassion, self-kindness, self-nurturing, self-rapport, self-attunement is, partly, the process of turning toward the original wound rather than abandoning ourselves every time that wound (buried pain) gets triggered. Like any skill, one begins with little bits. You don't have to do it all all at once. But little by little you learn the skill of not abandoning yourself (your own hurt and pain -- your needs, your expressiveness, etc., whatever you're abandoning). And the more you can do this with yourself the more you can and will be doing it with others. It is a beautiful dance that awaits -- a dance of sharing weight, of being truly together with others while also being with and as yourself.

This was amazing, River. Thank you for sharing.

I read this and reflected and realize that I absolutely DO abandon myself, and that the self-abandonment is so much worse than anybody else abandoning me or not providing me with the compassion I need, etc. This gives me another useful thing to work on.
 

Arius

New member
Does every sex worker feel intimately involved with every client they service? That would be exhausting!

I have a very close friend who worked for a couple years as a sex worker. She left the job completely alienated from her body to the point where she was unable to achieve orgasm. Now, there are other contributing factors to this, so I'm not saying it was just the intimacy thing. She was beaten and brutally sexually assaulted multiple times, ie. But she also firmly believes that treating sex as a detached, clinical, act damaged her spirit and disconnected her from her body and her feelings. Which is exactly what I would expect to happen if there was something inherently intimate about it.
 

JaneQSmythe

Active member
The party analogy - I can think of several reasons why you wouldn't be invited, but less reasons why she couldn't tell you why (in the party analogy only)...

So, maybe they know that you like parties, they DO really like you as a friend, but they do NOT like the way that you behave at parties (you get drunk, you hit on their mother, you start fights) - they don't want to get into a whole giant discussion about why they don't appreciate what kind of party-goer you are and so their options are a.) never throw a party, ever, so they don't have to address this OR b.) throw a party and not invite you.

They COULD c.) throw a party, not invite you...and explain to you WHY but then...1.) you will get all defensive, and they will have to spend a lot of time and effort trying to defend their decision without losing you as a valued friend when they have a big party to plan, and 2.) when you promise that you won't do all the things that you generally do when you go to a party (which is why you love them) they can either a.) still refuse, because you have told them that before and haven't behaved OR b.) relent and let you come, and be disappointed/embarrassed because you ONCE AGAIN did all of the things that made them not want to invite you in the first place (because, in your mind, they are "not that bad" and are what parties are for anyway.)

ADDENDUM: River found this post "far worse than useless", fine. I am not saying that Arius IS the drunken asshole party-goer in the party analogy. The point that I was trying to make is that there are other factors at play, that we know nothing about, that can contribute to another person's responses. We have Arius's viewpoint only, so he is the protagonist of our story. But the other people involved may have personal perspectives that make their choices and responses more understandable. Goodnight.
 
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