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Dec. 29th, 2011 | 04:48 am
location: the path

Day 30.

It is said that time heals all wounds. The truth of this resides in your definition of wound. I have been wounded many times and only recently realized how many were self inflicted. I have sometimes picked at the scabs of these wounds and have deep scars to show for them. Though these memories are painful, I have healed. From wounds, one heals.

This is something different entirely. Lost limbs and organs do not heal. A part of me is missing. I will get through this... I just don't know how, yet. I will learn to walk again. I will adapt, somehow. But so long as I remain separated from this part of me, I know that I will never again be whole.

So many times we behaved as children. Each of us so often needed parenting. What I am feeling now must be similar to the way a parent feels when a child has run away from home. It should not be surprising then that on day 30, I still call out aloud... for minutes, for hours sometimes. I know that I cannot be heard but sometimes struggle to believe it. Please come home. If you need time and space now, I will be patient. You don't have to come home to the relationship we had but you can come home. You don't have to run away.

I understand now how our relationship worked... and how it didn't. The therapist said over and over that we fed each others' issues. That we had to work on our own stuff. We seemed to take turns with depression and with willingness to participate.

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I have read that it is called a push-pull dysfunctional relationship. That sounds simple. Maybe it is simple for some. Besides being in the middle of it and being self absorbed, there was something else that made ours difficult to understand. We were not each permanently assigned to our roles. We traded places many times... but the way we each expressed it was different. It also went with mood, circumstance, and habit. Being unaware of the roles we were playing allowed us to keep acting them out over and over.

It's too bad we can't fix this, right? That we could see a problem so clearly yet be forced by fate to repeatedly do the same things until the end of our days. We have no choice, right? Can we really believe that? I think the opposite may be true.... that if we understand what happens, it would be impossible to ignore. The awareness itself would cause us to stop. We would each be forced to confront ourselves and grow. But I can't tell you because you aren't here, you aren't reading, and you aren't ready.

Without awareness, we will continue to do these things whether we are around each other or not.

Imagine that at any given time, one of us belongs to one of these two roles. It is convenient to call them push and pull. I will describe each of them.

PUSH:
demanding
manipulative
guilt trip
insecure
complaining
bitchy
needy
lonely
confrontational
smothering
control

PULL:
avoidance
unreliable
distant
run away
unsupportive
non-responsive
feeling trapped
smothered
emotionally unavailable
power

When in the role, we may exhibit any one of those traits, some combination of them, or all of them. Therefore, you can choose one or more words from each list to replace the words push and pull in these sentences.

When I am PUSH, the other person is PULL.
When I am PULL, the other person is PUSH.
When the other person is PUSH, I am PULL.
When the other person is PULL, I am PUSH.

Listen up now, Harry, this is important: This does NOT describe a causal relationship.

We came pre-programmed. It would be easy to say that we were really good at pushing each others' buttons, but there's a funny thing about that saying that seems to frequently be forgotten. They're buttons... of course they are easy to push. We're not the only ones who can push them or anything. We walk around every day with these buttons inviting other people to push them and activate our routines. It doesn't require guidance... we know how to act out these roles because we've done it countless times with many other people.

It may surprise you to hear that I have frequently been the one to pull away, but it would be true to say that I have more often been the one to push. On a very basic level, I have never been entirely okay with myself. I have disguised myself so much of my life that sometimes it seems like I forget who I am. I feel empty, alone, lost, and afraid. I doubt my self worth. I want someone to reassure me. No matter how much I hide myself, I want someone to find me and see me. I want to be worth finding. I want to be worth loving. I want reassurance. I want attention. I want someone to do things to show me that they have noticed me, thought about me, or cared about me. I want to be convinced. I want to believe.

Many well intended people will feed this. Even now, I crave it... from anyone... from strangers. Whether I know you, like you, or respect you, I give you the keys to my very being and invite you to judge me. But this is a game you cannot win. I will watch and listen closely.... not to what you actually say or mean, but for clues about what you have decided about me. Remember, it's all about me. Eventually, you will say or do something that I can interpret in a negative way and aha, I've got you. I have caught you. Not really. It's more like... I've accused you... or I have framed you. I have taken my feelings of worthlessness and manipulated you into feeding it back to me.

But it can go the other way, right? I mean... surely if you do things that show me that you care about me, I will see that you think I am a worthwhile person. Your time investment may not be enough for me. Your emotional investment is something I can question. Really, I can question anything... I mean... what if you're just trying to be nice. What if you just feel guilty or feel sorry for me. If you don't yet, you will. Because you can't win. I want you to fix something in me that is not actually within your power to fix.

Eventually, you will get tired of this. You will feel taken advantage of because the things you have only just done for me or to show me that you care have already been forgotten or were ineffective. You may have even done things automatically and it may have been your idea. But will you do this other thing for me? Let's find out. Oh, you did that... let me check inside... nope, sorry, you have failed. You have not made me feel loved because you have not made me feel worth loving. Over and over. It's never enough.

But let's say that you have your own issues... because that's the story we're telling, here. You have had enough of my endless demands and you're tired of failing at trying to convince me that you love me. You're fed up. You're tired of doing things for me. What have I done for you? Why did you do those things for me, anyway? I'm not your boss. I'm not your master. Screw it, you're not going to do anything for me now. Shut it off. Shut it all down.

You don't have to do anything and now you're not going to do anything. Whatever you promised yesterday, who cares, it's not going to be good enough anyway. I will find something to bitch about and criticize. Why bother? One way or another, I was probably going to say that you weren't doing what you were supposed to do so why try? Sure, you said you were going to do it yesterday but only because I nagged you, guilt tripped you, or conned you into saying you would do something you didn't want to do. When you said you would do it you were just trying to shut me up because it never stops.

Now you've done it. Now you've let me down. Now you're a lying liar that lies. And if you lied about this, you lie about everything. You lied when you said you loved me. You lied when you said you even liked me. You lied when you did all those nice things for me that I have negated in an instant. Now you have to start all over. But it's worse, because now you're in the hole. When were neutral and I felt like I was crap, you hadn't lied to me yet and told me I was worthwhile. Now that you've let me down, you're going to have to do a lot more to convince me.

Hey audience member, are you scared yet? Was that me? Yes. I did that... but you don't even have to change the words to get it to match exactly what the other person did to me. Wait, which one of us is which again? We were both.

Sometimes we occasionally found codependent harmony. If the other person felt needy and it expressed it without lashing out at me, it fed that thing I crave so much. It made me feel needed and useful. Sometimes this may have been when I was being manipulated the most... but this is when I was the most supportive and nurturing. No matter why the other person initially did it, we both got out of it what we wanted and felt almost a momentary bliss. So there we were and I was being good... but then the other person stabilized. Everything was okay but as soon as everything was okay, I wasn't needed anymore... and that was the same thing as not being wanted... and that was the same thing as having no value.

But you're still reading, right? Okay, back to first person.

My version of pulling away never actually involved me coming close to leaving. Maybe I said harsh things. I said that I should leave. I said that anyone else would have left. I said that it feels like you want me to leave. Come on.... baby me. Talk me out of believing that. Make me feel wanted. Do what I want.

Before we met, my partner had primarily been attracted to people described as "emotionally unavailable." I was not emotionally unavailable, ever. My version of pull was some other version of the horrific tempest. I was different. I was new. Imagine how rewarding it must have felt to someone who had for so long felt like their feelings were going unnoticed and I gave center stage.

In our better moments, we were strong for one another.

My partner literally and repeatedly almost died due to medical issues. I was like a protective mother wolf. My partner was so afraid I would be upset after wrecking my car... distraught from the accident and then worried how I would react and then surprised when I didn't care at all about the car... caring only about whether my partner was ok and recovering from having been so shaken by the accident.

When the landscapers left the gate to the backyard open, the dog ran away. I was in one room and my partner was in the other so we didn't notice for hours. I was so incredibly freaked out. I immediately started feeling guilty, started blaming myself, and then started blaming and yelling at my partner. She didn't have her tag on. I'm pretty sure I blamed both of us for that. Calm and cool... my partner found a picture of the dog, designed a flyer, went to make copies and then called the pound and left a phone number. Someone found her.... in the middle of a major intersection, but luckily she was cute so someone had picked her up and then called the pound to see if anyone was missing dog in the area with that description.

When things were dire... sometimes we were good. Far more often, we were both so wrapped up in being self-absorbed or resentful about some trivial thing. The smallest things became symbols for our greatest let downs and betrayals. We weren't heroic for one another often enough and we didn't stay grateful for long before falling into the same old patterns.

Even without the heroics, we really liked each other. We agreed about things no one agrees about. Our extreme political views were almost always in synch. We were both... really... really... good in bed... like... rock star good. We had no secret fantasies. We knew that we would never ever be bored with each other.

Trust was another matter. Trust was the most fundamental thing... that we just couldn't get right for long. On the medical records, I had power of attorney. When it came to life and death, trust was no problem. But the dishes, the trash? No. Being supportive and encouraging about relationships with family and friends? No. Getting up for work on time? No.

We made it through the biggest and most difficult of things but constantly drove each other to the verge of nervous breakdown over the smallest and most unimportant of things.

When we were together, we blamed each other for our unhappiness. When I was afraid the other person would leave, I switched to blaming that. For each thing either of us did wrong, we found excuses and blame in the other person.

With all my heart ache and tears, the truth is that I still feel lucky to have ever had the fluke of meeting this person. I want to be mad but I gave the other person every reason to leave. There is now a bittersweet reality. No other relationship beginning or ending nor any other event in my life could wake me up, make me aware of my problems, or make me take responsibility.

I had to see nothing before I could see everything. The good thing about knowing that I've been a child is knowing that I can grow now. The good thing about knowing that I am broken is knowing that I only have to fix one person. I used to think it was everyone else and fixing everyone felt hopeless but now I only have to fix me. Is it only because I have been made to see how bad I have been that I am now becoming the best I have ever been.

It took a lifetime to find the person with whom I wished to travel but it is only on our parting that I have found the path. I want to say, "Come with me," but you are not here and you are not ready. You don't have to run away but you can't understand that yet. I am at the turning point of my life yet I am feeling the deepest sorrow and regret I have ever known. Please come home.



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