I had an interesting therapy session today. We talked about my interpersonal problems that I have experienced in my life. Basically I am learning that I might have some issues with trust, rejection, and even self- esteem. Wait, what? Me? Say it isn’t so!
Form the beginning my life was doomed to trauma. When I was 1.5 years old, my 3 year old sister died tragically in her crib. Then there was the sexual abuse. Then came the absence of any affection from either one of my parents–perhaps there was a relationship between Gloria’s death and their willingness to show emotion Molly, my therapist, suggested. Then came the death of my 8 year old brother when I was 11.
John was hit by a car on Christmas in 1975. I was sledding with him. After that tragedy my mother lost her shit. And I became the object of all her rage. I was beaten for anything of consequence. I was locked in my room for months at a time. When I would come home from school, the doors would be locked and I would usually have to wait until about 7 or 8 to be let in.
They didn’t trust me. By then I was stealing everything in sight and a real problem. Then I was removed from the home and embarked on 6 years of Foster Homes, Group Homes, Juvenile Detention, etc. No wonder I had trust issues, bonding issues.
Then I met alcohol and my life turned to shit until 7 months ago. Yes, I am fast forwarding. The issues I have today with reaching out to people. The issues I have today with being able to maintain long-term healthy relationships have a lot more to do with my life than I previously thought.
Most people, when they first meet me, unfortunately think I am arrogant and condescending. It’s been that way for a long time. Only after several months of being around me, do I start to hear things like “Man, I thought you were such an asshole. You’re actually pretty cool.” Great, am I to spend the rest of my life playing catch up when it comes to interpersonal, and work, relationships?
I can’t afford to let the issues from my past define my future. I have to get to work and fix these. I am able to do this now that I don’t use alcohol and drugs to self-medicate. I have done some serious work here in the last 2 months. However, one glaring issue remains: I do not interact with anyone outside of these confines, on any meaningful level. I am avoiding building friendships.
Molly and I talked about the fact that being myself here on my blog is actually very easy for me. I can approach you on my terms. I can choose to come online or not. The threats are at a relative 0. Not so here in the land of “live” humans. She suggested perhaps I have this approach-avoidance thing going on: I crave interaction so much that I will bare my soul online, but I fear it so much that I refuse to open up “live.”
Hmmm, that’s going to be a problem moving forward. Part of me feels like it’s so much work. Part of me actually doesn’t give a shit; I’m happy relating to the world through my written words. I have made some deep connections that I could never make in the “live” world. Is this the sort of thinking that will prevent me from staying sober? I think it could.
If I maintain this approach to people, I will never learn to go along and get along. That’s not to say I can’t maintain intimacy, I have had some very rewarding and satisfying relationships. It’s the public world I have such a difficult time with. Apparently I am a lot more fragile than I was willing to admit.
I’m always feeling judged, so I judge. I am always having problems receiving criticism and positive feedback. So what do I do? I criticize and offer feedback even when it is not invited. Am I rejecting people on my terms before they can reject me? Is my self-esteem so low–because all of my early interactions with people were abusive and loveless–that I feel paranoid about not “being” myself the right way?
Well, dear readers, I must say that today’s 1 hour session was chock full of “what the fuck.” But, being the survivor I am, and being the sober man I am today, I will forge ahead and tackle on these new issues. I never realized the extent to which I suffer emotionally. I never realized that all my life’s trauma has resulted in me creating a persona that tells the world–outside of our hallowed halls, of course–“fuck off, stay away.”
And here I thought I was just an alcoholic. “Of course,” I mutter to myself, “I couldn’t be so lucky that it was only that” (laughing). And so I learn, and so I change.