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the source of my despair

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May. 2nd, 2003 | 01:28 am

So, there's been several cases where I've told people that I feel hopeless about ever dating. This shows that I wish I could do such a thing and yet find myself quite pessimistic about it happening.

When I tell my friends about this, they have a tendency to argue with me since I seem reasonably functional, can be interesting, and even have a few social skill. However, since I have access to my mind and they don't there is something that makes me believe my view is more likely to be true.

The reason I think it's unlikely for me to actually manage to end up in a relationship is I want one too badly. Basically most of my life has been spent living with an enforced emotional distance from others. It started as protection against insane parents, followed up by my families frequent moving and the corresponding continual loss of friends. Not to mention just the alienation of being a queer atheist kid growing up with fundamentalist christians.

So I was left carrying my desperate loneliness into my adulthood. I tried to date a few times but discovered that trying to use a significant other to fill years of abandonment was doomed to a painful failure. (And after failing just left me feeling all the more cautious toward opening myself to others).

Unfortunately whenever I start feeling that there is some hope of forming some relationship that has enough intensity for me to think of it as "love", regardless of how I try to not lose control, I am inevitably overwhelmed by this desperate need to feel cared for. Once the person I'm interested catches a glimpse of the depths of the isolation and despair that I've struggled with they inevitably run screaming into the night.

When I share this, I'm usually then told that "one can't find love until one loves oneself."

One of the things I find irritating about that claim (even if it's true) is that I've had to drag myself to psychological health, through decades of severe depression, through the years of transition. (With some help from a few friends, but still largely any progress I've made has been through the exercise of my force of will.) Basically I feel like I won't ever get the chance to experience a romantic relationship until after I've overcome all of my psychological damage. (I describe this as no love for me until after I'm perfect).

So since I haven't found a solution to desperately wanting to feel loved, I don't think I'll find anyone willing to deal with this bit of brokenness, and as a result, I'm condemned to being emotionally isolated.

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Comments {31}

T e s s

(no subject)

from: soulsong
date: May. 2nd, 2003 01:43 am (UTC)
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there is something that makes me believe my view is more likely to be true.

And that 'something' is, while you hold this view, it will be true.

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T e s s

(no subject)

from: soulsong
date: May. 2nd, 2003 02:10 am (UTC)
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You've got lots of justifications here, all of which are true if you believe them.

Frankly I think most are bullshit (I describe this as no love for me until after I'm perfect) but really they all come under the category of self-hate.

I know, because I've said all this crap myself. I've pushed people away by being too desperate. I even went through the gender thing too so don't tell me I dont understand. And yet, I overcame it all. I love who I am. I am proud of my path. And this attracts people who meet those high standards we both share.

My wisdom, for what it's worth, is this:
You will almost certainly get the kind of relationship you think you deserve

Oh, and the idea that you need to be perfect, is moronic, and unworthy of you. No-one is perfect, and love, even self-love, comes from accepting and celebrating flaws, not erasing them.

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Diane Trout

(no subject)

from: alienghic
date: May. 2nd, 2003 02:42 pm (UTC)
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Oh, and the idea that you need to be perfect, is moronic

At this point I know that, though for a long time I had trouble feeling unworthy for being inadequate. I have had a strong tendency toward perfectionism, and a corresponding inability to accomplish anything because of it.

I mentioned that comment more because of feeling frustrated with how my personal psychological issues seem to be structured, I'm well aware that other people with many more problems get to use relationships as a way to resolve some of their issues (while creating new ones). While suffering with severe depression for instance, one is really unlikely to be able to interact with others in anything other than a selfish needy way. Now that I've gotten a handle on the depression, the next problem of tending to overwhelm anyone I'm interested in with some type of strong emotion makes me feel like all of my major issues are conspiring to make relationships as hard as possible. The conclusion I draw from that is then in order to be able to deal with relationships I'll have had to resolve most of my major issues, and therefore be "perfect" or more acurately, just an exceptionally healthy psychology.

(Although thinking about your challenge, I did start to wonder if it's not negative emotion that freaks people out, but that I have a phase shift between being emotionally reserved and tending to strongly share my feelings. So the people confortable with the first phase of me getting to know them are perhaps frightened by the second phase).

Out of curiosity did you have to deal with severe depression? I had one trans-friend who didn't, and she didn't understand how although the answer to being depressed is to stop, recovering from depression can still take a long time. (Depression has the unpleasant property of sapping ones motivation to deal with it.)

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adrienne

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from: sapience
date: May. 2nd, 2003 03:35 am (UTC)
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Once the person I'm interested catches a glimpse of the depths of the isolation and despair that I've struggled with they inevitably run screaming into the night.

I agreed with everything you said up until this point. It's not the darkness that makes people scared. It's the emotional black hole that is often created by low self-esteem - it sucks up everything in its path, but is never satisfied, and refuses to let go anything it has caught in its gravitational field.


I feel like I won't ever get the chance to experience a romantic relationship until after I've overcome all of my psychological damage. (I describe this as no love for me until after I'm perfect).

I definitely disagree with that. I know lots of people in relationships, and none of them were over all of their psych issues before they got involved. Including me. You just have to find someone whose psychoses match up well with yours.

The problem may be that you're falling for the wrong people. A completely closeted lesbian who wishes to stay that way would not partner well with a lesbian who is an out and proud gay rights activist. A queer poly woman is often plagued by doomed attractions to straight women, gay men, and monogamous persons. Someone who is settling down, nesting, building a life full of responsibility and constancy, probably won't work well with someone who still doesn't know what they want to do when they grow up. A codependent person isn't going to match up well with a free spirit. Someone who is uncomfortable talking about sex, or even being around a sexual vibe, probably isn't right for the highly sensual and sexual person who will gladly talk about sex acts in detail with relative strangers.

But, I mean, what the hell do I know? It's easy for me to sit here and say all this, but who's to say that I know any better than anyone else?

The one thing I do know is that with very few exceptions, I have been the initiator in my relationships. I tend to go for the shy type, so I learned early on that I couldn't wait for them to do something. In almost every case, things started off by me doing or saying something that made it completely obvious that I was interested in them in a more-than-friendly way.

With women, it's harder, though, for so many reasons. One is that I have a fear of objectifying them, and that makes it hard for me to hit on them. But if I get over that, then there's the bipolypartnered problem, which seems to be a much bigger problem with women than men. And if I get over that, there's still the problem that I can't read women's signals well enough to figure out if they're interested or not (like I can with men), so I end up getting rejected most of the time.

I'm not trying to solve your problems or anything, here. I'm just trying to share how I see it with you. If it helps you gain some insight into yourself, great. If not, I at least hope it isn't harmful in any way.

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adrienne

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from: sapience
date: May. 2nd, 2003 03:42 am (UTC)
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Rereading this, it seems rather cold, austere. I didn't mean to come off that way at all, but it tends to happen when I try to emotionally distance myself from an issue so I can look at it more "objectively". So I'd like to fix that by offering some things to randomly insert in my post to make it more warm and fuzzy:

*grin*
*smile*
[picture of a fluffy bunny]
:)
;)
[random monty python quote]
[random princess bride quote]
*hugs* (j/k)

<3,
adrienne

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Diane Trout

(no subject)

from: alienghic
date: May. 2nd, 2003 02:49 pm (UTC)
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it sucks up everything in its path, but is never satisfied, and refuses to let go anything it has caught in its gravitational field.

*whistles, looks around, tries to deny recognizing some of my past in that statement*

I definitely disagree with that. I know lots of people in relationships, and none of them were over all of their psych issues before they got involved. Including me. You just have to find someone whose psychoses match up well with yours.

I agree with that too, though in my ever unpopular pessimistic view, it does feel like the psychoses that I have are specifically the ones that make relationships challenging. For instance, my discomfort with sex combined with being relatively out about being trans is problematic. The queer women I've met who are less bothered by my trans background also tend to be much more sex-positive than I've been comfortable with.

(Not to mention the trans thing still makes me feel extra nervous about objectifying women).

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Josh

(no subject)

from: irilyth
date: May. 2nd, 2003 11:51 am (UTC)
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I think there's some truth to both sides of this: Desperation is a turn-off, but so is pessimism. I hope to have some more positive advice (beyond "stop whining, just be more optimistic and everything will be fine", which IMHO isn't very useful), but will have to get back to it later, stay tuned.

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Diane Trout

(no subject)

from: alienghic
date: May. 6th, 2003 12:33 am (UTC)
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Out of curiosity did you ever come up with some suggestions?

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Vicky the Compost Queen

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from: vixter
date: May. 2nd, 2003 06:43 pm (UTC)
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Desperation also has the danger of leaving you open to manipulation or exploitation.

Everyone, including you, Diane is worthy and deserving of a loving relationship. Also some of the strangest people seem to be in relationships. I don't think depression or desperation itself precludes having a relationship. It make affect it, though.

I think your shyness and relative lack of potential partners are also big contributors. These are things you can do something about. Not easily, for sure, but I think they are easier than willing yourself not to be depressed.

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Diane Trout

(no subject)

from: alienghic
date: May. 6th, 2003 12:21 am (UTC)
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I was talking about the difficulties meeting people with a friend, and she agreed that Caltech is a tough place to date even for the straight women. Let alone the handful of queer women around here. The other problem is just being rather busy and having difficulty spending enough time around other interesting people to get to know them.

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wig

(no subject)

from: wig
date: May. 2nd, 2003 11:15 pm (UTC)
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I think you should be extremely proud of yourself for 'dragging yourself to psychological health'. A lot of people never make it that far. Personally I haven't had to deal with trans issues, but I have had to deal with other identitity crises, crippling depression, the Pit of Despair and social awkwardness.

Once the person I'm interested catches a glimpse of the depths of the isolation and despair that I've struggled with they inevitably run screaming into the night.

I used to often feel this way, and I know just how painful it is. But David hasn't run screaming into the night. (Well, he has a few times, but then he came back.) I wasn't very open with him when we first met, but in time everything came out, all my insecurities, fear and pain. It was very ugly indeed for a while, but now I can see how this relationship has provided me with the precious opportunity to continue to heal. Things still get ugly from time to time, but not nearly as often as they used to, as my shadow self occasionally vomits up chunks of undigested anguish. So what I am saying is it was true for me - I hooked up with someone whose psychoses match mine, and have been able to use this relationship to work things out. I agree with your other friends that no love for me until after I'm perfect is silly, and I think deep down you probably know it is silly, too :)

But how to get the relationship in the first place? I agree that people are turned off if they sense desperation. What did I do? I used a combination of methods, mostly 'acting as if'. Even if I didn't feel confident, I tried to act as if I did. Even if I didn't feel worthy of love, I tried to act as if I did. Even if I didn't feel attractive, I tried to act as if I did. I had to repeatedly make conscious efforts and it was very awkward at first, but it was a case of 'bring your ass and your mind will follow' - I forced myself to go through the motions of being emotionally healthy and mature, and in time my mind came more and more in line.

I also could relate to the 'phase shift' between being emotionally reserved and emotionally outgoing. This used to be a lot more of a problem for me when I was just coming out of the (most recent) period of depression and my emotions were quite volatile. As I have lost my more and more of my crippling self-consciousness (and, incidentally, as my yoga practice became more regular) I found I was able to 'even out' my emotional output.

And can I just say, time heals all wounds. This I am finding to be true.

Hmm, I don't know if this is the most coherent comment I have ever written, but I just wanted to say, I could relate :)

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T e s s

(no subject)

from: soulsong
date: May. 3rd, 2003 04:23 am (UTC)
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Ziege wise. Ziege understand. Ziege want to take over world with Yoga.

While I'm a paid up member of the "get yourself psychologically healthy and they'll be leaping into your arms" camp, I still agree with Ziege that some relationships can provide a wonderful space in which to grow. In fact, it's hard to see how else we could grow, except through close friendships and relationships. For myself, you've already seen that I credit much of the changes in my life over the last five years to two people in particular. Neither of those was a 'successful' relationship, though I did date both of them.

The hardest part was finding that the healthy people I wanted to go out with, weren't interested in me yet. I had to 'put up with' those who would 'put up with' me. These came in two flavours - those with low-self esteem like myself, and those who were wise enough to see the potential in me before I ever could.

Unsurprisingly, the latter are extremely rare, but they do exist.

PERSIST

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wig

p.s.

from: wig
date: May. 4th, 2003 04:02 am (UTC)
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Even if I didn't feel confident, I tried to act as if I did. Even if I didn't feel worthy of love, I tried to act as if I did. Even if I didn't feel attractive, I tried to act as if I did.

Why did I write this in the past tense? I still do this when necessary.

Also, a lot of my healing has resulted from me helping David deal with his psychological bad habits. It's a two-way street.

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soulspirals

(no subject)

from: soulspirals
date: May. 3rd, 2003 06:47 am (UTC)
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I have always found you interesting. When I left LA, you were one of the few people I was truly disappointed to leave. I felt like our friendship and connections were just starting to come together. I find you thoughtful, intense, intelligent and articulate. And I occassionally find myself wishing that you and another friend of mine were a better match geographically and orientation-wise.

You'll find your way, if you keep working this hard at it.

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Diane Trout

(no subject)

from: alienghic
date: May. 6th, 2003 12:33 am (UTC)
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Aww... thanks, I do wish I'd gotten to know you better before you moved away...

You'll find your way, if you keep working this hard at it.

I thought when I wrote the original it was just going to be me engaging in self-piteous whining. However the various comments people have been making have been helpful (I appreciate the range from just warm and supportive to constructive challenges.)

Also as a technique for self-growth, a LJ post does seem to have at least one advantage over face to face communication--it's easier to take a break, yet still be reminded to return to it.

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