I do not have a very good relationship with headaches. They love me, and I don’t feel the same way. Yet, we don’t break up. Headaches just plague me constantly. I am certain that some of them are caused by emotional pain, but these are too severe for that to be the whole diagnosis. I can tell they are migraines, because both Sudafed and caffeine help stop the pulsing sensation that makes me close my eyes and the brilliant colors start dancing behind my lids. It is genetic. I spent parts of my childhood waiting for my mother to emerge from a dark room where she was sleeping off these monstrosities with narcotics because in those days, that was about the limit of what you could do after Tylenol, Sudafed, and a cup of coffee didn’t do anything.
The headaches aren’t NOT connected to my bipolar disorder, either, because when I feel bad physically, the pain compounds mentally. I feel worthless because I have even less to contribute to the conversation besides sitting in the room and unable to focus on other people because I can barely see five feet in front of my face.
As of right this moment, I feel like I have ants under my skull and I can’t scratch them out…. But not in a destructive way. Just in that way that it feels good to scratch my head like I’m washing my hair. I am not feeling crazy in a way that would have blood dripping down my neck and me saying, “did I get them?” That’s too dark even for me.
It’s just easy to pick up on dark humor when you feel this bad. It’s been all day, every day, since about Thursday. I have been going about my regular business while feeling absolute shit. It’s not my favorite set of emotions ever. I don’t like the guilt of feeling sick, that I am falling down on the job of taking care of other people and realistic about taking care of myself. I am sorry to all of the people who have sent me something and I haven’t replied. Being sick isn’t an excuse, but I hope it’s context. It is a sign that I am feeling marginally better that I was able to reach out a couple of times this morning even though my head is pounding, anyway. My need to isolate when I am sick is absolute when I am sick, because I do not want to be seen, heard, or touched. If I lived with a partner or I just happened to be with Zac during something like that, I might cave on the being touched part. I wouldn’t talk about it. That’s because there’s too much evidence it’s not psychosomatic, and too much evidence that it really, really is. I have a feeling I talked my way into this mess, so I don’t want to talk my way out.
That’s generally how I get into emotional messes. People think I’m too much. Full stop. I’ve been told I’m too much by too many people for it not to be universally true. So, I don’t talk about it and my brain sets up pain loops that eventually turn physical if I struggle mentally long enough. Depression and anxiety create stress responses that wear down your immunity and resistance to injury. In my case, that means something hurting far longer than it should when I fall. Depression makes me lose timing and balance, because they get worse when I’m tired. Depression is chronic fatigue, so I live for hypomania. Because I’m medicated, it doesn’t mean a whole lot except for my energy being high enough to handle more of other people’s emotions because I’m not concentrating on my own.
My closest allies talk about their problems and it helps me to focus more on them so that depression doesn’t dog me as bad. Changing my perspective is key. When I spiral out, my trauma reflexes kick in and the rage I’ve been holding in because I’ve been keeping so many secrets from an age where I should have been allowed to be young creeps in. Except I can’t get mad at her directly, it comes out in my writing style and people don’t realize that I’m hurting. They see it as being mean to them on purpose. I am working on changing that perception, but it’s hard when I’m struggling so hard to contain my emotions. I am combustible, and the first step is acknowledging it.
In the particular case of the Internet relationship, her life was bigger than mine, and she had a lot more to focus on than me. That was completely fine until my issues were never addressed and it was clear they were never going to be important enough for things to change. Then it was deciding whether I could live with that or not… that the level she was willing to pay attention wasn’t going to ever change and I needed to get with the program.
It wasn’t her fault, but our problems were too unique for me to process, and heavy enough that I needed to resolve them or move on with my life. That superficial interaction wasn’t enough for me because the feelings I’ve been carrying are too large for me to talk about on my own. And it’s not fair for that information to go to anyone else, anyway, because if I have something to say about her, it’s something she should know rather than me talking about her to other people. It’s what friends should do for each other no matter what the circumstance might be.
It caused no small amount of wanting to resolve everything and come to a peace about it so that dropping in on each other’s lives would have been possible. Not having that peace bothered me too much not to get closure on my own. That’s because her behavior came across as “you’re in pain and I don’t care” whether she meant it or not. Healing me meant giving me the peace of mind about what she was thinking and feeling, and because she didn’t give that, the relationship got more and more off kilter as I needed her to engage and she was stonewalling me every chance she got. She had every right to do so, but not with me. It was too much, but not too fast. It had been almost ten years. I was very supportive of everything she was going through, and frustration at not hearing that it was causing me more pain not to hear her anymore than I could reasonably be expected to carry. If she wanted me, I needed her to open up, because it was devastating that I was no longer hers, not that I never was.
Everything she did to stonewall me looked bigger than the occasional incredibly sweet things we did for each other, because it wasn’t my love language. She wouldn’t come my way no matter how I felt about it, which was to hurt deeply. It wasn’t fair for me to live with that level of pain and pretend it was okay anymore. That our relationship was nourishing me instead of draining me. In effect, we’d get frustrated that though we were both speaking clearly in her love language, she forgot how to use that skill and was extraordinarily frustrated that I cared so much more than she did because she wasn’t feeling the same pain as me. Working out problems didn’t make her feel more loved. Having a surface level friendship didn’t make me feel loved, either. It was a win-win situation in some ways, and devastating in others. I couldn’t afford that lack of self esteem anymore, because it was incongruent with being told that I was extraordinarily smart and impressive. In the beginning, I felt incredibly needed and extraordinarily honored, but because she stopped being vulnerable, I felt discarded. That’s not on her because she needed to distance herself. It was on me to decide a plan of action… what I needed to do to stop feeling unloved all the time because it was something that contributed to my physical health because I hadn’t learned to think about her. I’d imprinted on her and began to feel her.
Not resolving an issue completely presented physically, because she apologized for her behavior, but bringing it back up when I was processing what happened when something in my head referred to it was wrong. That I wasn’t bringing it back up to shame her, but defining a pattern. Recognizing a bad pattern and addressing it was the way to move forward and relieve the pain tape. Changing my pain to my empathy and focusing on what she was feeling was relief. I couldn’t get it from her, but I could get it from me.
Processing a thunderstorm takes a lot out of me, so that’s how I know it’s all in my head and also serious as a heart attack, because psychobiology tells me it’s true. But thinking about what she must have been going through brings me peace because it’s not offensive to think those things without her, when it hurt her to hear them and respond as if I was actively trying to hurt her instead of trying to change my own reactions to her. It was essential to resolving my feeling wanted and needed, because it made me emote in a way that made me feel equally hurt. Getting my needs addressed didn’t come across to me as actively trying to hurt her. It was solving the problem of being close in the future without knowing if there was a future or not. No matter what, we are part of each other’s brains because there’s nothing that will ever stop it. But there’s no building anything, either, when we constantly hurt each other because one wants to get closer and the other doesn’t set boundaries at all.
When she did, finally, it hurt too much to hear. It was never going to change. I could spill my guts any time I wanted, but if I hit a nerve, she was always going to keep it to herself unless it made her angry enough to explode. To have more negative reinforcement than positive was too much, because I then felt like I was intruding on her life rather than adding to it. It wasn’t that she didn’t want the relationship at all. It was that we didn’t want the same things. She was making clear what hadn’t been before, and it was devastating to an enormous degree because I’d put in so much work to rectify past mistakes so that she could trust me, and it felt like those letters were trying to prove my trustworthiness and being taken as attacks…. And that’s what made nothing move forward. I tried different ways to address a problem and none of them would work. I was lecturing her, not inviting her into my world. And it wasn’t that I couldn’t move on, either. It was that when a huge callback came up, she would take it as rejection and not trying to get closer, or not wanting it and not willing to be able to say it until now. It had to be one or the other, because in order to feel impressive, I needed to know why. Which changes have impressed you, because you only seem angry with me when you write? Why does a sitrep make you feel horrible instead of you lumping all my emails together as if they all say the same thing?
In my head, I thought she was a miracle, and she thought I was annoying. I am usually impressed by being the most annoying person people know, but she was my safe space, my lock box. It makes me feel so much light and love to feel needed in the same way, and my heart couldn’t take all the changes I’d made in negative ways, and it took a long time to understand that my illness had gotten out of hand and I needed to give myself a break because I’d done everything I possibly could to make sure I was consistent in my behavior so that our connection was as rock solid as ever, that scar tissue was stronger than new. She was safe from me. She’d have to know how long the stereotype of the aggressive lesbian has existed to know how deeply I’d shamed myself into believing I was a worthless piece of shit. How deeply it cut into me when she thought I was being overbearing when I was making light of something that had happened eons ago. The fact that she wasn’t there yet destroyed me. If she couldn’t laugh about it, she was holding onto pain and just not addressing it.
To give her an opening to do so was wrong and didn’t change anything. I just reinforced the idea that I wasn’t safe, when humor is how I move on. Therefore, when a clapback triggers something major, she can’t hear it with empathy, it’s a threat. Something I meant to be innocuous triggers abandonment feelings because I know that straight girls have been taught that homosexuality is wrong, or they just feel it. To tap into those feelings is not the same as a guy saying those things, because it makes them wonder what it is about them that gives off those vibes when there’s nothing in that thought process at all. When you love someone and start to feel those butterfly feelings, does it matter what their sexual orientation might be if yours is bisexual and theirs isn’t? There’s nothing about them that gives off a “vibe.” I’m not looking for feelers, because there are none. There is only direct communication and the deeply ingrained cultural acceptance of queer feelings being somehow wrong.
So, to be intrusive of that cultural norm is a bad thing, and I am separating out what happened before I got sick. Why do straight people automatically reject the fact that even if they can’t return those feelings and it’s okay, we’ll get over it, the thought is somehow offensive, as if we should have been able to tell you weren’t bisexual at first glance? That it is somehow in and of itself offensive?
I was never concerned about her reaction, because I knew it was a dead end, that these feelings were my responsibility to get rid of and they didn’t resolve until I absolutely spiraled out after isolating her because the pain of rejection was causing all kinds of hell, especially since I’d pushed buttons that were out of bounds in my haste to make her angry enough to reject me altogether, because I needed time. I would have gotten all the time in the world if I hadn’t picked myself up and apologized, but because nothing about our relationship was solid except for checking in once in a while, I floundered. No one loves you like someone who has wanted you and taken the time to get over it so that particular rejection doesn’t cause pain. Then, to have it resolved and to want to welcome someone into your life so badly and to have that deep love rejected is a unique torture, which you bring on yourself if you feel as deeply as I do about things.
Lesbians move on in this particular way easier than most, making an ex a part of their family because they trust people who have felt that deeply about them. Straight girls don’t, and I’m sure that’s because there’s a whole litany of tapes that run inside them when it happens. It irrevocably changes something, because it doesn’t feel like the natural order to them. It wigs them out, and why that is a thing is blatant.
What bothers me about this is that straight women have no problem telling each other that they love them to that degree, and say that they’d marry them. No, they won’t. Why? Are lesbians treated differently in this country or something? It’s fine to say it when it could never happen. Joking is fine, real is not.
Pushing is not fine, either, but that’s a separate issue and built on the fact that mental illness sucks. I have to believe that entitled behavior always comes from mental illness, because to make that level of a bad decision takes dedication.
To say that you’ll never do it again is empty, always…. Even if you take the appropriate steps psychiatrically and psychologically to prove it. She was very impressed and afraid at a fundamental level, and I couldn’t resolve that issue for her, I could only talk about it and see if it did any good.
I got exactly what I needed in every way but one, and that one overshadowed everything else, because it wasn’t being received as color commentary. It wasn’t received as letting her into my thought process. It was trying to inflict pain, and being seen like that wore me down over time. Feeling this deeply about someone when they couldn’t or wouldn’t speak in my love language when I realized I needed to make major changes in my life and keep them consistent in order to keep our relationship strong made me feel terrible. Believe me, I was fired for cause, but I couldn’t make things better for me, either. I could only make things better for her, which I was glad to do in any way that I could. But not hearing about her life made me feel unworthy, and it cost me a lot. Then, when she finally did open up, I thought we were set. It was just unfortunate that she hit a trigger. It was not her fault that she hit it. It was her response being irate and asking me not to put something on her, when I wasn’t. I explained what happened and she threatened not to communicate with me ever again, when she’d dismissed a basic need. I was trying to express my own fear, and it came across as irritating her for the fun of it. I’m sorry, what?
It was then that I thought we were done, because I thought it should have been enough to end us. But she and Daniel had so much in common that I really thought they needed to meet each other, because they would have been friends whether I was involved or not. They could have leaned on each other in a different way than they could have leaned on me. I bargained with myself that it was worth going through pain if I could make this connection, so I did.
Here was what I think was the fatal mistake. She told me that she would have to respond to my other e-mails at some point, so I asked her about it a month later, figuring that was enough time to get back to me and I was really interested in what she had to say. She didn’t know what I was talking about, and explaining it didn’t ring a bell. Knowing I was that low a priority was necessary. I needed to be on the bottom rung, being supportive and waiting for a response. But over time it wore me down because I felt unworthy of being a higher priority.
Therefore, it cannot be said that any of this is her fault. It’s my reaction, because she was right to do everything she did, and so was I.
But one recent moment that sticks with me is asking her to take a contact photo of herself for my phone… “it’s just to match a name to a face, don’t make it weird.” She legit just turned the camera around and hit the button, and it was one of the most gorgeous photographs I’ve ever seen in my life. This is because her eyes were focused on the lens, which made them come across as deeply intimate in a beautiful way, like she was staring into me, and it is just for me. She knew she was looking at me, and she saw me in return.
It’s a beauty that would undo anyone, and it’s not even close to what goes on behind those eyes. She is truly a world class brain, and here’s the biggest thing of all. She made me believe I have her smarts, too, when I actually use them. Her belief made me stronger, and made me love who I am. She continues to believe that, and I want it so much because it makes me like who I am when I’m with her. But feeling the pain underneath is a rough gig, because I couldn’t forgive myself. I’d be reminded of something bad, and chastised when I talked about it in hopes of letting it go. I let the joy multiply, it’s just that pain compounded faster. I was paying so much interest I couldn’t attack the principle.
That’s all on me, but what became clear is that resolving my own feelings had to come from me if we weren’t working on it together. I was in too much pain from feeling like I was a problem that needed to be solved. I couldn’t rectify not being able to build from a foundation that was once rock and had disintegrated at my own hand. As in, I wanted to move forward together, and didn’t want to do it alone until I had no choice.
Surely everyone is familiar with the pain of it all? That you’ve done something that can’t be truly forgiven because neither party is willing to communicate because one wants something more and one wants something less and both are afraid? The feeling of not wanting to rock the boat and hurting inside? Wanting to feed relationships so that they develop roots and brilliant flowers? The disappointment of knowing it can’t be done. Choosing whether the eventual buildup causes redemption or rejection, knowing that rejection will win when communication isn’t clear?
If we’d set up new boundaries where we were comfortable so that I didn’t build up a hope that should never have grown, I would have been fine. Asking for clarification took eight years. She danced around the subject because she knew I wanted more than she could give, and felt guilty about the pain it caused me because she didn’t want to tell me about hers and never would.
When she opened up about her family, I was thrilled. I don’t think I made it where it was clear that I was both overjoyed and felt left out at the same time. I was thrilled to hear that the relationship had been successful, loved the idea that she’d found a life mate, and announced it to all her friends except me. What does a lockbox friend want to hear except the things that make you love more? It meant I felt the pain of being excluded for so many years while also feeling the joy of being included now, wanting to build on it and not knowing if I should. If I tried and it failed, I’d be opening myself up to more rejection and pain. I did, and it did. Nothing went the way I wanted, and everything sounded better in my head, because her perceptions were so far off from my intentions. It caused a lot of anger that went unresolved, because what friend likes to hear on a consistent basis that someone feels like I need to attack them instead of “will you work on something with me?” Again, I think she is the most beautiful human known to God and man, and I am nowhere near alone in this opinion. The fact that she felt rejected by my words and they made her respond more than the accolades I gave her made my self esteem plummet. I was trying to speak for myself without speaking for her. She thought I was creating the narrative that I was a victim, when I didn’t think that at all. I was trying to get her to speak to what was bothering her by laying out my fears, hopes, and dreams first. Being strong by asking instead of telling.
To think that I was not thinking of her feelings is untrue. It wasn’t my job to write about her as if I already knew what she was thinking. It was telling her what her words did to me on an emotional level and needed to hear her reaction. When it began to always be pain, that I was goading and provoking her, I knew we were never going to see eye to eye on this, so we couldn’t give each other what they needed. There was something bigger than me at work. I was trying to build something strong and comfortable for the future, where the idea of having a conversation in person didn’t seem weird. When she said she’d think about it, I began to write in that way. I don’t know whether I wasn’t a priority because the prospect felt scary or because she literally didn’t want a future even when I talked about a time in our lives where she didn’t have as many commitments. It would have solidified in my mind that there was going to be change later on, even if there couldn’t be right now. She finally said enough to convince me that I was too much of a burden for her to spend any more time, and suggested she’d only been nice to me because I’m a writer.
There were a couple of other things that made her think that I was trying to hurt her, none of them true and scared the hell out of me. But none of that stopped the hope that we’d resolve our mutual issues with each other because she’d said she’d think about it and I couldn’t press. There was nothing to calm the fear we had in each other, even when I was vulnerable first. We both lead from the back, and I wanted to show her that I wasn’t willing to do anything for her that she didn’t do the way she’d saved me first. She just didn’t trust it. Didn’t mean I didn’t understand why and felt like a victim. I wanted our behavior patterns to change because this was costing me so much energy without being refilled because we were focused on different ways of being there for each other. My pain was all my bag, but hearing hers would have lifted it. I wasn’t trying to make her feel anything, I was curious as to how she felt and didn’t want to speak for her except in explaining how her behavior came across to me and wanting to know the reasoning behind it because it was so uncomfortable to be in the dark all the time.
I am sure the intensity of all my feelings came across as gigantic, and pushed her away to an enormous degree. Trying to prove that though they were large, they were all pointed in the right direction was futile, because she couldn’t just let me be me anymore. She was exhausted by it, and I was exhausted at her always thinking I was trying to attack her and trying to find different ways to resolve things so that she could hear just how much she meant to me without it seeming somehow manipulative or offensive when neither of those things were in any way true. I feel the same way about Bryn, and it makes us able to talk about anything and everything. She accepts all that gigantic love and returns it in a way that feels consistently loving to both of us, because neither of us feel like one is feeling deeper than the other.
We both feel deeply in every quadrant of emotion on the z axis, and don’t deny each other access, because being able to process is important to both of us. Neither of us see the other feeling something about a thing is an attack. It’s telling each other the story we’re telling ourselves and checking to make sure it’s true. Neither of us are a victim of anything because we’d never phrase anything in the form of “you made me” because we can’t. No one makes you do anything, you can only describe your own feelings and hope someone responds in a way that enlightens your assumptions rather than them feeling rejected. My uncertainty about the future led me to react quickly, because I never knew when something I said was offensive or not because she lumped everything together in one unit and said everything was negative.
I knew that wasn’t true, because she respected my opinion and would yield to it in the beginning. She’d talk about my perception and tell her story. To have something that vital and ephemeral was painful in a way that I’d never experienced. It was her right to withdraw, certainly, but also my decision on how long to be wrecked by it. How long to hope someday was real. To crave consistency and not be able to put it into language where it was heard in the manner it was meant to be received, which was not able to be changed because there was nothing to put us in the proper context, the only think able to break patterns. To meet might have made us repel each other for a while to let the cognitive dissonance set in, because the difference in writing voice and speaking would create sensory overload on both sides.
Maybe meeting in person would have been the end of us, anyway, because we both would have realized quickly that nothing could be fixed. But what I was aiming for was trying to make it comfortable enough to do that so it wouldn’t seem like a big deal because it wouldn’t seem out of left field.
Writing about it is helping me stop the rumination that comes with being so close and yet so far. I never could tell what I was saying that came across as an attack, just that there had been one. Therefore, I couldn’t stop “attacking her.” Being blind isn’t my fault. But I get to decide how long I’m willing to put up with not being received with positivity.
I felt like I had to ask her permission to go, because I needed to know whether I was valuable to her as an asset and not a liability…….. and deal with it on my own if I wasn’t because the not knowing was just as painful as letting all of that hope float and bursting it later, once it had grown. “We were just an empty dream too big for hope alone to fill.”
She did teach me a lot which I couldn’t have learned any other way. I am in no way mistaking the part for the whole. She made me glow from the inside at such a rapid pace. I can’t thank her enough, which makes my negative feelings all the more painful. I wish in a lot of ways that I could have relaxed and enjoyed not knowing, just going with the flow. But the problem was that I couldn’t, for a million different reasons.
Mostly that I didn’t like who I was when I was with her anymore, because receiving the impression that I was always trying to attack her made me feel terrible. I am not that person, and don’t want to be. I want both of us to work on the issue so that the other doesn’t feel like they’re being emotionally vampired. I want them to tell me when I have a good point and when my perception is off. I also want you to believe me when I tell you how your communication is making me feel. I pop off in anger because my trauma reflexes work fast when I should have thought more before I said something. This generally comes from being exhausted at being misunderstood for such a long time that first I’m talking about what I’m feeling and over time, my fuse at not being heard gets shorter….. it just takes a very, very long time….. or it used to. I’m trying to be better about communicating what I need, but if I’m not hearing your story because you refuse to tell it, I am not calculating my responses on it. I am telling you the feelings of rejection it has created for you to leave me out of your story.
I thought she needed me to be a part of her support system, which is why I worked too hard on trying to get this relationship to thrive and miserable when I couldn’t do it. I could feel around for her anger, and see how she responded to my feelings. Whether we were building something or tearing it down.
It all depends on your view. After ten years, it was causing headaches indirectly because rumination sets up physically when your energy turns toward it. It feels like weight you can’t get rid of, so you either have to fish or cut bait.
She made it clear that she was ready, and I made it clear that if she went, she couldn’t do things like thank me for something I’d written because it only jump started my heart in her direction, but in all the ways she would want when she was convinced that I was trying to hurt her. That’s why I was so firm on the fact that if she was going to show up next time, it had to be big. To acknowledge that I wasn’t a victim for opening up, that we were equally bruised by each other in different ways, and if our relationship were to get better, we needed to stop being so short with each other. Meeting physically wasn’t even on the table, only being vulnerable. I just became convinced over time that the only way to cure us from wrecking our friendship if she did drop in was to change all the perceptions we had of each other that weren’t true.
To think about how we would have been different and do it.
My work to do is to put down my trauma reflexes, because it makes me write differently than I would handle something in person and generally my impatient or fearful messages don’t come from anything but feeling uncertain. Knowing that communication is hard work, and I have to forgive myself when I fail and accept the consequences of my actions with everyone.
Being angry with people when I feel abandoned is valid, but the words I use to express it are too much, especially when I type faster than I think and rage is building with no way to control it because ADHD, anxiety, and depression.
To have no patience for it is the other person’s right and they shouldn’t be expected to stick around no matter what I say, because words have weight. I pay those taxes all day, every day. I also have the right to step back and post mortem a situation, because reading my thoughts here often fixes the problem of what to do next on both our parts. Sometimes, it lets people in closer. Sometimes, they feel rejected whether I wanted them to feel that or not, because people only understand others’ words and actions to the level they understand themselves.
I can only express my needs, and if it is too much to ask of someone, I am generally patient and loving until it’s been so long that my resentment is building. She thought I was trying to get her attention, and that part is true….. but never in the ways that she thought I was trying to get it. When I was being really thoughtful and vulnerable, I wanted her to think about what I said. That’s the kind of attention that I wanted, that she’d seen the full picture and wasn’t focusing on what she thought was negative, because my intention was never to hurt her. I couldn’t afford to lose her until I was very, very unhappy. Being known for all these negative things instead of all the things I said to build her up made me think of myself that way.
Those headaches were the worst.