My therapist had told me for years-you can’t feel for other people. But I can. And I do. Saying that I can’t had sent the message to my subconscious that this was a challenge. I love a good challenge. I started to take on her emotions, and I had no idea I was doing it. I accepted her pain. But in my willful unknowing-I thought it must certainly be me. So, when the projections started flying around I had already begun to believe that there was something wrong with me.
The earliest one I can remember was right before I went into therapy. It wasn’t my first rodeo in therapy. My first time was when I was 8. My mom says, “you were always a happy kid, and then one day you weren’t anymore.” Right-so, toss me to the school counselor because that doesn’t alienate anyone in their third grade class. She gets out of class because she can’t adjust like the rest of us. Thanks mom.
This time, life was happening. It’s cool. Shit happens. I lost my job. Got fired. I had a guest complaint which I still maintain was the biggest bullshit claim I have ever heard. I am no stranger to guest complaints throughout the ten years I spent in the restaraunt industry. I always owned it. This one, though, was an all out lie. But, you know, whatever. I’m sure I needed out of there for a reason. In hindsight…it was bringing me even more truth that I still wasn’t willing to recognize.
So, I lost my job. With that loss came a whole heaping weight of, “what the fuck do I do now?” Overwhelm. Sadness. Fear. Things I now understand to be totally normal in that situation. Totally valid. Totally acceptable.
Yet, this is how it went down.
The next day, I was laying in bed. Throwing myself a pity party, otherwise known as trying to figure out what my next steps should be. The bottom dropped out. What the hell do I do? I tried talking to my partner about it. But, you know, things just work out, everything is fine. Let’s just have sex. I, obviously, couldn’t go there. I wish I could have, it just wasn’t what I needed. There’s a pretty strong chance it COULD have been exactly what I needed, but in that moment-it wasn’t right. I said no, not now. I can’t.
She flew out of the bed in a huffy puffy mess of her own perceived rejection. I laid there alone in my own perceived rejection. We were young. We were stupid. I don’t know whose perceived rejection was more or less valid, but nobody felt loved that Sunday morning.
As I laid alone and cried, she went to take a shower. As I laid alone and cried, I could hear her masturbating in the shower. My hurt and shame and fear and rejection compounded exponentially. I felt useless and used. She didn’t want to have sex with me to connect and help bring me out of my funkiness. She didn’t want to have sex with me because she loved me and knew the healing power of human connection. If she did, I very likely would have completely surrendered to her proposition and her touch. I guess my soul knew things I hadn’t figured out.
As I laid there, vulnerable, alone, and deeply hurt a surge of anger built up in me. Who was this person that I shard my life with? What kind of a person acts like this in these situations? She’s a monster. Why would she hurt me like that? What did I do to deserve this?
The shower turned off. I was up and pacing. I didn’t know what to do or say. I don’t even remember what I did say. But I definitely didn’t shy away from expressing how incredible shitty that behavior was.
She smirked at me, “I don’t even know how you heard that. I was trying really hard to be quiet.”
I hadn’t learned yet how to say, “I’m hurting.” But something tells me it wouldn’t have mattered.
“It’s not about the fact that I heard it, it’s the fact that you DID IT!”
“I have needs.”
That was her answer. That was her sole means of justification.
“I have needs.”
Selfish fucking asshole.
I was speechless.
But let’s break down this monstrosity of an interaction. Her needs for sexual gratification with or without my presence trumped my need for human contact and a genuine need for my difficult emotions to be soothed and processed.
She left. She went to go watch football, and drink beer with her friends. She didn’t invite me.
Instead, she looked at me and said, “You’re a lonely person. You need to go talk to someone.”
She was right. I had never felt more lonely than I did that afternoon. And I did make an appointment with a therapist shortly thereafter. But my loneliness in that moment was not wrong, chronic, unfounded, or even a ME problem. I felt her loneliness so deeply it became my own. I went to therapy to try and fix it.
That never truly worked itself out. Only now can I see why.