I’ve been focusing on not being able to talk to my parents, and how difficult I find thinking about that is, let alone taking any action.
But it’s more than that.
I’m not good at being open and honest with people I don’t know well enough. To some extent that is perfectly normal. Very few people spill their life history to everyone they meet. But I do find it very difficult to be honest about the negative thoughts in my head. I find it difficult to say actually, I’ve had a bad day for these reasons and am not in the mood.
I can do it with my best friends and to quite a few of the next circle of friends. But I have to have invested quite a lot of time and emotion in getting to know those people and understanding their own fears so that I feel that they are genuinely understanding me back and that there is a real emotional connection between us. I have friends who live relatively normal, problem-free lives and I can’t confide in them. They may be good listeners; they may be sympathetic but to give my problems to someone without receiving theirs in return makes me feel vulnerable.
I don’t want to put myself in that position. It makes me feel that I have to rely on other people’s compassion, friendship and understanding in order for me to feel safe. These are all types of support I did not receive from my parents or partners and therefore have no history of expecting.
In my head, I know that these people, these friends who aren’t quite as close as they could be, aren’t going to start gossiping about me behind my back, aren’t going to start laughing at me for talking about my problems. Nor am I going to bore them to death by not talking about anything else.
And yet I don’t tell them almost all of what is going on through my head. I’ve got better at talking about my children, although some people I see have no idea that 2son hasn’t been at school. My children are one step removed from me and so I find it that much easier talking about them rather than me.
I’ve been talking about friends. This attitude, this fear of harm and hurt has far more drastic implications when it comes to thinking about having a close relationship. I tell myself that I want to learn to be happy and independent, that looking for a partner while I have young children is difficult and impractical, that all the good ones are married. These things are all true but I’m also far too scared about how much of myself I need to reveal, the amount I would have to tell before thinking that someone knew the “real” me.
On another level I also have such a low body image is such that the idea of taking my clothes off in front of someone else fills me with horror. I have friends who don’t want to commit to a long term relationship but who manage to have consensual no-strings friendly sex in a light-hearted manner. I sort of applaud them, envy them and at the same time recognise that I’ve never been able to have this attitude. Not because I only think you should have sex as part of a deep and meaningful relationship, but because I fear to have it any other way.
This post has been really hard and slow to write. It’s almost been easier and a distraction, to think about me and my parents, rather than me and everyone else.