Running forward with alarming enthusiasm

Not so long ago, I saw someone in the street to whom I have not spoken in a few years now. A reminder of the things I do not do well around people and relationships. None of it is easy to think about, or to look at, but I promised myself honesty this year, and that means not dodging the things that are profoundly uncomfortable.

Based on observation, I’m a good person to have as an acquaintance. I can show up and be helpful as required, I’m not too intense, passably entertaining and so forth. I do fairly well with acquaintances, and there are a lot of people in my life who I know a little bit, have small amounts of contact with and who do not seem to find me especially problematic.

Generally where it goes wrong is where there’s any move to make that more involved. The people who move closer most usually move away again – and the faster they moved in, the faster they leave. A few years ago, in the space of a few months one round of this went from ‘we should be the new Inklings*’ to ‘our lives should never cross again’ and the extremity of it, both ways, still troubles me. I did not utter either line. This year has brought other rounds of people who moved forward and then away.

Mostly I stay still. I worry about being excessive and difficult to deal with, and increasingly I don’t share any of the more awkward bits of me. I am, if anything getting worse at putting a hand up to express fragility, or need, especially if I’m depressed. I know this would trouble me if I was watching someone else do it.  But what I do best (in terms of how I impact on other people) largely, are the less involved, less emotionally intimate connections with people. The exceptions to this are few and only one of them spends significant amounts of time with me in person.

It’s not lack of care or open heartedness on my part, I realise. There are a lot of people I care for deeply, a fair few people I would go so far as to say I love. Any move forward suggests the possibility for a balancing retreat a little way into the future. It’s a dance that has badly damaged my confidence, and I just don’t have the energy for it anymore. I think if anyone else ran at me, suggesting we could be some kind of fabulous thing, I would simply run away and spare myself the inevitable consequences.

What I have always wanted, were deep, enduring, open hearted friendships that were based on honesty, and trust. What I can do well are fairly superficial, open hearted, lightly available but be careful at all times kinds of friendships. Those of you who will respond to this with warmth and encouragement are people who are only slightly involved with my life, internet people, or people I see occasionally. Lovely people who I value, but who I increasingly believe are only ever going to be in my life as distant and occasional features. What I get alongside this are odd people running at me proclaiming that they will be all the things, and then running away again, and I do not know why. Why this is what I attract, and why I can’t deal with it better.

There was a brief moment of eye contact in the street, with the person who would have been the new Inklings with me. I looked down, and I kept moving. ‘Our lives should never cross again’ except of course that they do because it’s a small town and we have people in common. A final request that I do my best to honour, and which haunts me nonetheless. I’ve spent years not knowing what to do with any of this. I think the answer is to accept where my strengths are – being a certain kind of friend at a certain kind of distance, and to let go of the idea of having really close friends who would choose to be involved in my life in more than a brief run forwards and run away kind of style.

 

*Literary group involving Tolkien and C.S. Lewis.

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About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

6 responses to “Running forward with alarming enthusiasm

  • landisvance

    I have found that in my life people who run toward me and want instant deep relationships are projecting onto me a character that they need for me to be if their life story is to be what they want. They are not seeing me for who I actually am. Then, when they discover that I am not the person they created in their mind, they feel a deep sense of betrayal. Absolutely none of this has been of my doing except to the point that I, in the past, have been desperate to belong and to be loved. I took a long look at what role I might have played in this and was surprised to see that my way of being introduced to people allowed the room for this drama to begin. In the culture in which I grew up, when you meet people, you instantly try to find mutual connections. I realized that this mutuality of relationships opened the way for the other party to fit me into the role in her/his drama (usually it is more women who do this to me than men). I have stopped doing this, although in the beginning I felt terribly rude and not well-mannered. Instead I am pleasant but not extremely out-going. I think it is working and I am benefitting by seeing myself as an independent agent.

    • Nimue Brown

      That’s really helpful, thank you. I have no idea if the same is true of me, but the desire I have to be what people want me to be in order to be acceptable certainly is an issue, and probably isn’t helping.

  • Terra

    People have fled from me. They have said that I come on too strong. Now, having been told the same thing on various occasions, I’m inclined to think the person telling me may have a valid point. If several people see the same thing in me, maybe that thing is really there.

    When I read that you have experienced the same thing, then I wonder, maybe it’s not something unique to me, or to you. Maybe it’s something that many people experience. Maybe it’s a characteristic of relationships that those which begin intensely also end intensely.

    I’ve been in a situation lately in which I’m going through a rough patch with someone. I’m not sure if it’s a conflict that can be worked out, or whether it’s that this is someone who is not treating me with respect. Throughout the conflict, I’ve maintained the knowledge that if this is someone who does not treat me with respect, then I don’t want to continue the relationship. I’ve maintained this because I’m inspired by you. I think of your first marriage vs. your current marriage, and it reminds me that no one deserves to be treated as unworthy, that we all deserve to be with people who accept and value us as we are.

    • Nimue Brown

      It means so much to me to know that the sharing is useful in this way, thank you for saying. Here’s to good boundaries. I’m also thinking that there is a whole world of difference between intensity and drama. I love intensity, I hate drama. People who love drama can be drawn to intensity and that’s always messy. People who are intense can so easily mistake drama for intensity and be caught out.

  • piesandwich

    Another eerily relevant blog. I think I can force myself into awkward silence sometimes because I’m trying to stop myself from shouting “Let’s do all the things!!”. I am myself going through the disintegration of a friendship I think, largely because I jumped in too hard and fast. It’s making me to revaluate a lot of my actions.

    • Nimue Brown

      Currently resisting the urge to jump and down shouting ‘we can do all the things!’. Also, am fine with silence. Often less awkward for me than trying to come up with something safe and suitably tepid for most social situations.

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