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thinking and feeling

April 23, 2012

Spouse has Lyme disease again; and apparently I have a virus. I have been sleeping most of the day since Saturday. I almost never get sick, unless I am overstressed. And I have been.

Since I already felt like crap, with trepidation I finally told Spouse about my shower. (He had not read my blog post about it.) The conversation did not really go the way I expected, but I wouldn’t say it was a blazing success either.

I guess the good news is, I think I have figured out what the toxic waste is: I am psychologically enmeshed with Spouse. Similarly to the way I was with my mother, and with the threatening person. With those two previous relationships, the only way to get free (that I could find) was to sever our relationship, and stop all contact with them.

Which works in the short-term, but does not prevent me from finding myself in this situation, again and again.

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Maybe I’m drawn to liminal spaces because I don’t actually have hard edges — but I should. At least sometimes.

Ironically, in small ways I can easily discern how we are separate: we don’t read the same kinds of books; our musical tastes don’t overlap much; we don’t like the same foods. I’ve spent years trying to get him interested in my favorite topics, with little success.

If he could wear blue every single day, I think he would. I like lots of shades of blue but I rarely wear any of them. And I never wear the dusty blues he likes.

I’ve known for years that somehow influence only seems to go one way, but I couldn’t figure out why. I do have strong opinions about a lot of things; I’m passionately committed to several things. But somehow that never has turned into the other person caring about any of those things, although I have often taken up some of their favorite things. I thought that’s what you did in a relationship — I thought that was part of what a relationship is for. But instead of being two equals, I seem to always find myself in primary relationships where the other person is at the top, and I’m one down. They hold all the power, and I don’t have rights, I have only privileges, which can be taken away at any time.

I keep thinking of contacting an authority figure (like an old counselor), and asking, “what am I allowed to want? What is supposed to be mine that can’t be taken away?” I know even wanting to ask those questions means something is really wrong. If you are psychologically healthy, you don’t need authority figures to tell you what is allowed. But when I was younger, and I took (or tried to take) what I thought was right for me, I was punished, and shamed. Sometimes I was publicly humiliated, and then everybody talked about me for years afterwards. Sometimes everyone just ignored whatever I did. ‘Bother’ is a term that I keep returning to. If ‘bother’ would be required — whether bother meant showing up to see me doing something, or money spent, or emotional energy expended on my behalf — it generally would not happen. As far as I can tell, I am not worth any amount of ‘bother’ to my parents, and never have been.

+++

When I’m sick, I know where my hard edges are. But I also feel bad, and my defenses are down because I don’t have the energy to do otherwise. When I’m overstressed, I welcome being sick, because then I can just take care of myself and not feel guilty. I am so grateful just to sleep, and not have to caretake anyone else.

+++

Spouse doesn’t have the same kinds of ‘endless emotional needs’ that my mother had. So it’s been harder for me to figure out what I can offer that he wants. How can I make myself indispensable? It’s a scary question to have to keep asking, because I can’t find anything he wants me to do. The things I thought I was good at, with my mother, included things like fashion sense, cultural awareness, art history — but he either isn’t interested, or doesn’t like my taste. My mother had me vet science fiction and fantasy books for her, so that she could just read the ones she would like. But Spouse doesn’t like science fiction or fantasy. I love hard and soft sciences, including psychology, none of which my mother or Spouse is interested in.

I can feel myself getting smaller. It’s back to ‘what’s allowed’. Spouse keeps pushing me to find something for myself that I like, that I’m good at. So that’s different from my mother. But when I talk about my past, things I have done that I’m proud of, he doesn’t think any of them were impressive. He keeps saying things like, “You’re so smart, you’re so talented. One of these days you could live up to all that potential. I hope I get to see that.” And then I feel like a worm, like nothing I’ve ever done matters. Even though it matters to me, but no matter how often I say that, he never agrees. It’s always, “Someday in the future you might possibly achieve something worth talking about.”

When I protest this way of characterizing my whole life, he gets exasperated, and apparently thinks I’m whining about nothing. Or he tells me I’m too sensitive or I think too much.

Thinking is how I make sense of the world.

+++

It’s definitely ironic to me that, if I’d been raised in a healthier environment, and I had been able to consider myself the personality I was born with (INFP), my primary function would’ve been Feeling. And Thinking – as Feeling’s direct opposite — would’ve been the function I would only start exploring in midlife. Instead, I had to start thinking really early, because if I couldn’t make sense of my world, and then navigate it effectively, I was going to die in it. And somehow my Feeling function got tangled up with other people that I relied upon. So that, when feelings are involved, I can’t be completely sure where I end and other people begin. If I had to rely strictly upon Feeling, I would be utterly lost. Other people’s feelings are so often unmanaged, chaotic, out of control. These other people don’t even seem to know that feelings can be managed. It’s difficult, it can be very energy-intensive, but it is certainly doable. I know, because I do it all the time. (When I can’t quite manage it, I suffer through depressive episodes.)

+++

If I could learn how to have a primary relationship that is emotional healthy, I would then possess skills that I don’t think anyone else in my family of origin has.

I’ve spent the almost-6 years since I realized I was an INFP exploring the NF temperament, and learning how to be an INFP. Now I think I need to revisit being an NT. I’m still going to be me, whatever I do. But untrammeled NF is not working, and I miss using my brain in that uniquely-NT way.

I need to think more, but in different directions. And I probably need other people to bounce ideas off of. Other really smart people would be good, but I’m not sure where I can find them.

I need to pull inward, so I can rediscover who I am.

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