Sometimes you just have to start writing to know what you want to say. The thoughts are so random that they make no sense, even to me, the one that's thinking them. I have no idea what this ramble will turn in to...
As I've written, this story has turned a bit dark. I don't want anyone to think I'm majorly depressed or in trouble or anything right now. I'm not. I'm actually in a really good place. I can feel the feelings evoked by the writing, but I'm not stuck there. Don't worry, I'm Ok.
That book I was reading, "When the Body Says No", made me look closely at a long-held personal need and examine the origins of that need. I truly don't have any problem accepting the current conclusion I was led to by the author, but if I do accept it and it changes my view of childhood and my relationship with my family of origin, what good will that do? How will that help? It it causes me more pain and turmoil, and the only ones that could possibly have answers are dead, what is the point, really?
Ok, so here is what appears to be my core issue. The one thing I've sought out my whole life, that I've needed from the core of my being and have never felt in any relationship, ever.
Wanted. I've always felt alone, even in a crowded room.
I've been tolerated, mostly. Placated, put-up-with, never w anted. My earliest memories are hearing my conception was an accident. It seems the family was traveling and mom missed a dose or two of the contraceptive she was taking. Several weeks later, she said "Joe, you'd better sit down...". The brother that was the youngest at the time resented me. I got the attention as the new baby, and my dad's biological child (we were a yours, mine and with me, an ours family). My dad adopted the youngest boy early on, but I'm guessing my arrival changed their relationship. As I grew up there was a lot of tension between me and that brother.
Another bit of family lore that is probably relevant now is that my dad was a hot-head. He was an abusive screamer. I don't know if he hit the other kids before I came along, but it would not surprise me. He was mean. When I was 6 yrs old, mom through dad out. The story goes that the youngest brother I mentioned did something to set him off and dad took out after him swinging a pipe wrench. I guess its good that a 14 year old could run faster than a 47-ish year old. I have no actual memory of this - It's just been passed down.
Tough to decide which thread to follow - the dad, or the brother...
The dad it is then. I do have actual memories of going to my dad's house in Carmel Valley. It was a very nice place, seemed large in comparison to the place I lived with mom. His new wife seemed nice to me. I don't recall any problems (we'll get to what I was told later in a bit). We had fun when I went there. She was Danish, so there were European influences in the food and décor. We went to Solvang on occasion - a Danish village near Santa Barbara. I remember playing in the pond in the back yard, making an art project of sea shells glued to a painted board, riding my dad's horse - ok, well maybe I 'remember' those things because I have a photo to prove they happened. So it is with many of my childhood memories.
Once I was an adult, my mom told me how angry it made her the way I was treated by my dad and his new wife after he left our home. She said I would call to try to speak with dad, or make arrangements to go see him, but would never get a call back. Apparently I spent a fair amount of time crying about it. Reinforcing a belief I was not wanted. Years after it would have mattered mom confronted my dad about it. He became angry (no surprise there) and said he never got the messages. His wife never told him I called.
When I was around 21 years old my mom called me (I'd been married for two years by then) she asked me what I'd think if she were to get back together with my dad. Instantly I recounted the story of him running after my brother with a pipe wrench, but stated to her "Why would I care? You're the one that would have to live with him". Without kids, or money troubles there would be less to make him angry. Maybe he'd worked through his own issues - who knew. I hadn't seen him or spoken to him in many years. They re-married. I think mom panicked on their wedding night, because she had a pretty severe asthma attack. If she said she was happy, I was happy for her. I accepted the platitudes offered by my dad as to his love for her, and me, plus the rest of the kids.
My visits with mom, now included visits with dad. They traveled a lot until he retired. I moved out of state with my new family, so visits were not that frequent.
The brother. It seemed, at least to him, that I became the favorite of the family. He blamed me, even years later, when frankly he should have known better, for the behaviors of the adults in his life. Add to that the typical older kid not wanting he younger kid to hang around him all the time - not wanted. It's all easy to rationalize now, but as a child desperately seeking love and companionship - and to be wanted, those things were devastating. Side note - this brother has been my biggest support of anyone in my family during a time when I needed someone the worst. I was and still am, shocked at how much he's been there for me as a middle adult.
My only sister it seemed became my caretaker when my mom was away. Mom always worked outside the home, as a product of the great depression and the call to women to support the nation during WWII. It stuck. She worked her entire life. My memories of mom working included a rotating shift. One week 7-3, one week 3-11, one week 11-7. Whenever mom wasn't home my sister was there to see to me until I was old enough to see after myself which I guess was age 9 or so, based on the age of my oldest niece. That's kinda young looking back at it, but it seemed normal at the time. I remember feeling some separation anxiety when she married and left, and one other brother (not the youngest) married. I was losing my peeps. I didn't really understand.
School didn't help. There were people I hung around at times, but no true friends.
The people that were the dearest to me barely acknowledged my existence. Again, tolerated, put-up-with.
Is it any wonder that when a pretty blonde 14 years my senior started paying attention to me, I ate it up. I believed everything she said, even though, now I see it as total fantasy. It felt safe. It felt good. I wasn't able to reconcile the love I needed with sexual love. If you've just jumped into this blog, I'm gay. Knew I was attracted to boys since Jr. High - had no way to reconcile those feelings, or words, frankly to express them. I went with it. At 16 I was having sex with a married 29-30 year old with two kids. It took me 25 years to get out of that mess.
Other adulthood: So I became a nurse. Age 16 nursing assistant, age 23-24ish licensed nurse, age 44-ish registered nurse. I've spent my lifetime caring for others needs. Literally. In my profession it is understood that the nurse sees to the needs of the patient and family. Where this becomes a problem is that I stay in caregiver mode 24/7. I seek to meet others needs always, even when it's inconvenient. I get annoyed when someone else refuses to step up and help. I've honestly never understood it. It won't kill you to give someone a ride home from wherever we happen to be. Seriously. It's not that big of an inconvenience. Alright, I also behave that way, as it turns out, because I need to be wanted. If I do these things, they will want me. Actually, that isn't true, they still don't want me, they just use me for what they can get. Such is the sad story of my life.
Believe it or not, I came to this realization some time ago. I understood my the current method of human interaction was not meeting my needs. I left my long-term relationship and began to modify my life. Old habits die hard though. Peeling back the layers of the onion. The impetus for starting this blog was due to a relationship that formed (much faster in my mind, than his, as you can imagine from reading up to this point, with Kurt, if you're following along). Very much the same story. I saw in him empathy and I was drawn. 4+ years before our most recent meeting we met each other, heard parts of each others story, and went our separate ways. We bumped into each other at a community resource fair and I felt horrible. So awkward. He had a need when we met before, that I recognized, but was afraid to try to meet. When he brought it up I made the conversation about me. The guild of that moment plagues me. I failed to do the thing I'm programmed seemingly from birth to do. I couldn't meet his need, or even frankly acknowledge it. Today, as I write this, I feel the guilt and the pain. Fortunately, he found what he needed and we were able to reconnect.
Ok, so the book - the author discusses attachment theory and attunement. As a nurse that has done newborn nursery work, I'll throw bonding in there too. I consider my childhood and the knowledge prevalent at the time, and believe that as an infant I was taken from my mother at birth and brought back later, after she'd had time to rest and I'd been cleaned and examined. Needless to say what we would call bonding in todays world likely didn't happen. Attachment, on the other hand, I'd like to discuss a bit. Based on my longing for intimacy and sensitivity to rejection, an insecure attachment pattern may seem likely. I love quickly and easily, which opens me up to the potential for rejection. I've been told I'm deliberately exposing myself to my attachment wound. That could very well be. I've pondered this topic now for a month or so. I'm a big fan of Kubler-Ross, and the stages of grief. I believe they apply to everything we may grieve not just death and dying of a loved one. Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance. I think everyone knows this isn't a linear model. A person can jump around between the stages. I could be wrong, and only time will truly tell, but I believe I'm at a place of acceptance regarding attachment of childhood. I can understand it cognitively. I can feel the weight of it emotionally, I can accept the way it causes me to behave. I am fully aware. Changing the behaviors is another issue altogether. I need a new relationship to form so I see how things develop. The patterns established in my existing relationships can change, of course. I have been asking for what what I need when it has not been intuited.
The basic concepts of attunement is what I feel I'm missing the most. I can relate parental love, and the knowledge that they did the best they could based on their knowledge and circumstances to provide for my needs. I can relate the love of my ex, as twisted as it may have have been, there was real love. My current partner demonstrates everyday his love for me. I am very secure in that. What I don't feel is that anyone has ever been in-tune with my needs. No one has ever been able to see past their own need and anticipate mine. I'm sure as I explore this more, I'll have more to say.