Nb. The following will be completely uninteresting to anyone not interested in the random emotional mechanics of my head. Consider yourselves warned, and feel free to retreat at your leisure.
She knows her needs and yet /there is no special place where they can rest / her world is blank, she thinks perhaps it’s meaningless.
So. If we’re close, and even if we aren’t particularly, you may have noticed I’m a bit of a mess at the moment. I may even have told you so. It’s not that desperately bad things are happening; some good things are (approaching end of phd relatively smoothly, touch wood; writing fun things) and some others which are just, y’know, things. It’s big and complicated and I still haven’t figured some of it out, but the basic reason for this is that a lot of bits of me have been coming back to life a bit, the scabbed-over surface is beginning to crack, and some of the bad stuff’s been coming out to play.
A lot of my demons are tied up with abandonment, loneliness, unlovability, inadequacy, etc. And I lived on my own for a long time, which included probably the most intense relationship and commensurate breakup of my life. And I survived. Not as the same person by any manner of means – there’re a lot more barriers and defences these days, a lot more breakage underneath, and a vastly reduced if existent at all capacity really for hope or trust, on a very deep-seated level – but I survived. And then I moved in with my boys, and their visceral presence around me all the time started to convince my fragile, overdefensive, fucked-up self that they might continue to be. I started to let my guard down a little. (I love you guys, btw.)
Thing is, the doors it’s opened don’t necessarily lead to good places. Some aspects of it are good, and let me be clear, I am very glad it’s happened – I feel alive again; I’d rather pain, even this much, than stasis or numbness; people can actually touch me, like ice has melted – but there’s a lot of really messed-up lifelong stuff that the sheer struggle of trying to live and cope alone all the time masked. (I don’t really know how to fall apart without people to pull myself together for/around). Aforementioned breakup, after a relationship that had done a lot to mend my feelings of fundamental alienation/unlovability/inadequacy, served to confirm them (on an underlying emotional if not necessarily intellectual level) at the same time as entirely removing my capacities to a) make the compromises I could have previously in terms of understanding and compatibility and b) to genuinely fall for people just because they wanted (as opposed to understood) me.
That I reacted to this by unintentionally fucking up some other people I cared about (I think in ways that a lot of people do, but my awareness of underlying emotional dynamics/faultlines kinda prevents me playing the ‘but I didn’t meeeeaaan to hurt you…’ card, because I knew I could and how) caused its own layer of self-loathing and mess. So not only do I have the lifelong backlog to deal with, but new layers of stuff arising from breakup and how I dealt with it.
What does this mean, in practical terms? Well…:
Not only is there a lot of pain, loneliness, self-hatred and unlovability from before, but current situations are apt to trigger these feelings far beyond the degree to which I objectively – and emotionally when non-triggered – feel to be appropriate. (Cue much self-loathing for neediness, see previous writing on my upbringing/history, the demonization of emotional need, ED, etc.) I feel intensely sad and desperately lonely quite a lot of the time. If I seem ok, it’s conceivable that I am; but a) this isn’t always the case, b) it certainly doesn’t mean this stuff isn’t bubbling away underneath, and c) I’m likely to get triggered out of it pretty rapidly.
I cry a lot. (for ‘what to do if this happens’, see below. )
My IBS is much worse, with commensurate increase in physical self-hatred/trauma.
Food’s fucked up. The problem with having viscerally realised that self-starvation doesn’t work – or doesn’t unless you can leave it for long enough that the euphoria kicks in, which usually in my case means being distracted or otherwise engaged – is that I’ve been doing a lot of comfort eating, which also prompts immense self-loathing, which then fucks up my whole eat/sleep/swim/work pattern, which leads to more self-loathing, which exacerbates the problem. It means I’m prone to crying/grumping/being bad-tempered/dissolving in a welter of mess and trouble for physical/ED as well as aforementioned emotional reasons.
I need hugs a lot. I am essentially hug-powered, and the extent to which I need physical affection goes up with my angst level. Ergo, at the moment I essentially want the people I am comfortable with cuddling – and I hope you will know if this applies to you; it’s probably safe to say that if you’re het cis male and we hardly know each other it probably doesn’t, so ffs sake check before trying – to touch me a lot of the time simply for reassurance.
Relatedly, it means I have the tendency to- ironically – be aggressively defensive and/or anatagonistic towards people who make it clear they want sex or find me physically attractive. (This esp. applies to cis men I don’t really know, simply because of how much it happens, but also others sometimes.) This is partly because it makes me feel that all aspects of me bar my sexuality are fundamentally irrelevant and unacceptable to the world at large, and also because my physical loneliness and craving for affection is such that I find myself fighting the frequent impulse to fuck someone, anyone, just so someone will touch me.
Only relevant in certain circles, but fwiw: I’m feeling/being really quite sub, at the same time as *very* pissed off/upset when people try to take advantage of this, and this is occasionally causing trouble. Turns out my submission is all about my vulnerability! Who knew? #sarcasmincoming
So, why the hell am I saying all this? Partly, just so’s you – my friends – know. Partly so’s you know the things that help – and anyone who barely knows me is strongly advised to look away now – namely:
Telling me honestly how you are so I don’t burden you at times when you’re unable to take it. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT. It’s much more important to me to respect other people’s boundaries/needs/wishes than it is to spill my angst all over the place – hah, I have blogs for that – so please, PLEASE tell me if additional mess is not something you can deal with right now. You will be doing me a favour. I really, really, REALLY need to feel my emotional needs are not burdening people. It cuts to the core of so much of this.
Not trying to fix me/presenting solutions unless explicitly asked (I will if I need, promise)
Not telling me I’m wrong if I’m trying to explain something to you. This includes phrases like ‘but x!’, which always feel somewhat like you’re saying ‘but x rather than [my words]!’ The chances are I’ve considered x, and will if asked provide you with lengthy explanation of how x relates to what I’m trying to say, but it’s quite upsetting and derailing to be spilling some really painful stuff at somebody and have them essentially tell you you’re feeling things *wrong*. It doesn’t often happen, cos my friends are awesome, but just in case.
Existing. Possibly I’ve failed to communicate just how important my friends and the people who love me are in the fact that I still exist, let alone am as functional as I am: THANK YOU, SO MUCH, FOR CARING. It really is the most important thing of all.
 Of course, I’m simultaneously convinced that living somewhere I feel loved and accepted is simply a brief respite from a life (which has always felt, and yes, I’m perfectly aware of the #firstworldproblems element here) lived essentially alone and misunderstood to practically adolescent levels, but let’s leave that for now.
 I’ve now reached the somewhat uncomfortable compromise of only getting involved with people where *I’m* the emotionally vulnerable party, which as a means of avoiding hurt leaves something to be desired, but I can at least deal/live with it.
 Not to be flippant or anything, but there’s a list of exceptions with David Tennant on the top of it; details upon request
 . Hopefully needless to say, if you fall within this category but *don’t* want to be touched or to touch me, PLEEASSEE don’t. Similarly, PLEEAASE tell me if my behaviour triggers or upsets you in some way. Quite apart from the sheer awfulness for you, people doing such things out of obligation rather than desire is possibly the worst thing ever for my head.