I’m horrible about isolating myself. I always have been. The number of walls I have built over the course of my life is unreal. Its a defense mechanism I learned as a child. I’ve gotten better about letting those walls down as an adult, but when a situation triggers those feelings of neglect, abandonment or dropping the ball on the rare occasion I have reached out saying, “I need help and support,”…I can withdraw and shut down pretty quickly.
And honestly, its not healthy because I am already horrible about reaching out for help. But these ongoing experiences have only solidified my belief that sometimes, you just have to do it all on your own or not do it all.
Unfortunately, I have had a few experiences lately that really have me fighting that ingrained instinct to withdraw again.
I don’t want to go into a ton of details here. The details aren’t really important. I will just say that in the past few weeks, I have had some people in my life, people who I trusted a great deal, do things that have left me just sitting here shaking my head in disbelief at them failing to be present and supportive in ways they had promised to be.
As a child, that happened to me a lot…especially with my mother. She was the consummate abandon-er. The number of promises that were made by her to be present , for me and/or at events which were important to me…and then she failed to be present for everything from she lost track of time, to her drinking, to her work to her whatever… I got to the point where I quit reaching out to her, even when I needed her support the most. If it weren’t for my step-father making so much effort to a present part of my life, I don’t know if I would have any faith in people at this point.
Those defense mechanisms of not reaching out for help, even when I need it, have carried over to my adult life. For many years, in my romantic relationships, I chased after people like my mother who just couldn’t be present. They would tell me that they were there for me, only to find that something more important always came along.
Over the years, I have gotten better at identifying people who would behave that way and pushing them out of my life. I really have become a big believer in the mantra, “Actions speak louder than words,” and better at not ignoring the red flags. The hard part though is when things are going well, you develop a level of trust with someone that you haven’t experienced in years…
And then something happens and things instantly change…and the actions don’t match the words.
Its a difficult situation to face and honestly, while I am big, BIG believer in honesty…honesty also requires trust. And when trust is fractured… I think you get the idea.
I am going to have some things to process while I am on vacation. Between trying to prepare for my upcoming full time presentation, circumstances at work, the job search, dealing with my family and more…I am going to be taking some serious time for myself over vacation to focus on me, my needs and how I am going to move forward through the next few months.
The blessing right now is that, unlike my younger days, I don’t hate these individuals and I won’t shut them out of my life. But I will say the dynamics of our friendships are altered…I just have to determine how much.
See it on Flickr.
Rock Arch / side1