Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Invisible Neglect

My Husband is not an unkind man. He's good and honest.  Works hard.  Loves and cares for his children. Has a strong sense of integrity. People like and trust him.  So do I.  And for years people have seen the two of us as the perfect couple.  Our business is a training company that helps corporate people manage their interpersonal relationships better - we train and facilitate stuff that helps them learn that.  So we have been exposed to many models of human interaction and personality and interpersonal relationships.  We know a lot of the theory.  And have most definitely applied a lot of this theory in our family and in our own relationship.  Maybe that's what has allowed us to survive so long through our tough times.

So I struggle to find words that can explain what happened to us.  And today in my therapy session my shrink gave me two words to help me think about it more: 'Invisible neglect'.

In my previous blog I alluded to my husband's Peter Pan-ness.  It's not an entirely fair label, and doesn't apply to all of him.  But if I think about how he and I created our particular dance, it has a lot of Peter Pan and Wendy in it: Peter Pan the boy who doesn't want to grow up, and Wendy, too old for her years, trying to care for all the 'Lost Boys'.

Being the oldest daughter of a Narcissistic mother, like Wendy, I've always been the one who picks up and cares for everyone around me. I grew up with the belief that the world isn't safe and you can't rely on the people who love you to catch you and care for you.  And my response to that belief has always been to be the one who brings the care.  I have done that to almost pathological levels in the past - for example, I feel very responsible for every staff member's financial wellbeing and have spent a lot of money over time rescuing people financially whenever they  ask, with very little regard as to my own financial ability to do that. And I pander to my husband's needs always too - you want a new motorbike?  Sure. I'll find the money. New tyres for your mountain bike?  No problem (even though my business is crashing and I'm facing bankruptcy).  You want to go away for an extended cycling weekend with your new girlfriend that costs a fortune?  Don't worry - I'll make a plan.

Peter Pan entices Wendy into a more playful world.  She dares to imagine.  But in the end she is left mostly waiting and longing for him.
You know that place between sleep and awake?  That place where you can still remember dreaming?  That's where I will always Love you.  That's where I will be waiting 
and also
I wanna be your lost boy

Where is NeverNeverland?  It sounds so lovely - free of responsibility and grownupness.  You can fly. And Play. And fight - danger lurks even there...but there Peter Pan fights for you.  Here in the real world he is just a shadow: he comes and goes as he pleases and its up to Wendy to believe in him, and wait for him.  But he won't be with her when she needs him.  Only when he needs her - to feel held and loved and safe. He cruises in for the stories she reads to her little brothers, the mother approximation time. He asks her to believe in him and wait for him for the rest of the time while he goes off to play in Neverneverland.

So what does Wendy really get out of the deal?  She tends to her lost boys, but who cares for her? Wendy must grow up in the real world and fix everything for everyone.

That place between sleep and awake is for me the place we made love.  Dark places where fantasy can change reality. Where he didn't have to see my body in the stark reality of daylight, but often his perception of it with gentle lighting, sleepiness and lust.  That place is where his desire lived.  And that place where I could close off my pain of his daytime lack of desire for me, and instead lose myself in my fantasy of being desired.  A magical make-believe place.

But in the real world that magic was missing, replaced by critical "not good enough" stark reality.  There my belly looks wrong. My weight too much. I smelled wrong.

I have been lonely for a long time too.  Not just now, that my lover and I have split up, but probably more like 10years. Because he needs to play, and I don't do that easily, we have slipped in to a place where I am home, and he leaves.  And I'm such a loner and introvert, that it took me a long time to realise that it was loneliness I felt.

That years and years of Invisible Neglect got me to this point.  Where I couldn't be Wendy anymore.

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