Saturday, 1 November 2014

From We to I

I'm spending the weekend with one of my best friends, Lee. We were thinking about one of her past lover's need for enmeshment. Where he would so quickly take on all of her interests and activities as if they were his. Where, very soon she could not distinguish his separateness from herself. He would love the writers she mentioned. Read all the books she enjoyed. Take up Yoga or walking or any other activity she undertook, to the point where she was struggling to find any time alone at all. Even now, if she sends him a brief connecting message, he takes it as an opportunity to download all sorts of compelling and gushy sentences that are just too much for her now, in the aftermath of their affair. Where before she might have found it charming, it now feels completely irritating.

I must confess I do recognise myself a bit in that pathetic clingy behaviour. If I think of myself with Berlin, I'm kind of waiting for him to connect. And as soon as he does, I respond with something - not clingy but also with more 'feeling' and engagement than he touches me with. So it comes across, I think, like me trying too hard to connect and gives him the power in the conversation. Like I need him more than he needs me.

This does look a bit like teenage love games: who calls who? Who waits for who? I really have always hated those games and prefer to be clear and up front with my thoughts and feelings. But I don't think men find that very alluring. Particularly the hunting types. So many women I see have mastered the 'hunt me' dance where men feel they have more of a challenge, and maybe then value the prize more too? Am I devaluing myself in their eyes when I allow myself to be too forthcoming and engaging? When I give too much of myself away?

I'm also thinking about how this desire to 'merge' with another human being has a lot to do with not being able to exist in the 'I'. I have been part of a 'We' since I was about 15 years old. I met and married my childhood (disordered) sweetheart. When I left him 12 years later, it was an escape to protect myself and my son from his abuse. I ran straight into the arms of my current (Peter Pan) husband, and then from him to John-the-Narc after 20 years of 'we'ness'. I created a new 'We' with John.

And now, suddenly, halfway through my life, I meet the 'I'. How interesting. Suddenly I need to figure out who 'I' actually is when she's not part of 'We'. I remember watching that Julia Roberts movie, 'Runaway Bride' where there was a journalist researching why she kept leaving her men at the altar. He interviewed a few of her ex-fiances and asked them all the same question: "How does she like her eggs?" Each of them came up with a different answer - and, it turns out, she liked her eggs done like each of them would. When he confronts her with this issue, she, like me, begins to wonder who she is in those relationships. And who she is alone. There is a lovey scene where he comes into the kitchen on her and she has plates of eggs all over the counter, all done differently. She tells him she is trying to figure how she likes her eggs.

I guess that's what I'm busy with. I have been a 'We' for  two thirds of my life. And now, for the first time at 46, I'm starting to try on 'I' for a while. I guess I can forgive myself for craving and seeking the 'We'. But I am also relishing practicing the 'I' part too.

I will start asking myself what 'I' feel like. Where 'I' feel like going. Who 'I' feel like being with. I am aware that there are many I questions that I still have no answers to, but I am going to practice more and more trying to answer them.

My first question I want to answer is 'How do I like spending my weekends?'

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