THE EMOTIONALLY UNAVAILABLE HUMAN
I'VE SCRATCHED THE SURFACE OF THE EMOTIONALLY UNAVAILABLE MAN. I'VE GRAZED OVER A WOMAN'S PATTERN TO FALL FOR SAID MAN. BOTH TOPICS DESERVE MUCH MORE TIME, ATTENTION, AND EXPLANATION.
I can tell you CERTAINLY, that I have been THAT WOMAN. The one who goes for the Emotionally Unavailable Man. I've been working really hard to step out of that energy. It has caused me much grief and pain. In a twisted way, it's another form of my masochistic tendencies. But so is what I want to write about today.
TODAY, I'M ASKING THIS: WHAT IF YOU'RE THE EMOTIONALLY UNAVAILABLE PERSON? WHAT IF YOU'RE THE ONE CLOSED OFF, PUSHING GOOD PEOPLE AWAY? AND, WHY? WHAT ARE YOU SO AFRAID OF? WHY CHOOSE TO BE UNWANTED INSTEAD OF BEING SEEN?
I CAN ONLY WRITE FROM MY OWN EXPERIENCES, SO THE MEN THAT ARE READING THIS, DON'T WALK AWAY YET. I THINK YOU'LL BE ABLE TO RELATE.
I WILL START WITH THIS STORY. I WAS ONCE IN LOVE. HEAD OVER HEELS IN LOVE. THE KIND OF LOVE WHERE ONE VOLUNTARILY LEAVES THEIR LIFE BEHIND IN ORDER TO BE WITH THAT PERSON.
I remember moments with this person where the world would melt away. We didn't need much. Us together was enough. We sat in each other's arms, staring deeply into one another's eyes. Nothing else mattered except for S* and I.
*we will call him S in this story
I have to be honest. I cringe as I'm writing this. My defense mechanism immediately goes up, hungry to lash out at myself for acting so vulnerably and weak. Stupid Alyonka! One should never act like this! Your walls are down! Don't you know that people can take advantage of you? Naive, inexperienced girl. Oh how I pity her. Don't you know that you can easily have your heart broken?
It was. Badly.
The one time I decided to give myself fully to someone. The one time I decided to fall into the depths of a love, it ended in the worst possible way. I packed my bags. I returned to my life. I cried. Wiping my tears away determined to NEVER EVER give myself away to anyone completely. I was 21.
WHAT YOU HAVE TO UNDERSTAND IS THAT I DIDN'T START WITH A SOLID FOUNDATION EITHER. I WASN'T EQUIPPED TO FALL BACK INTO SOMETHING ONCE I EXPERIENCED THE PAIN.
I have hinted somewhat in other posts, that my relationship with my Father isn't a particularly warm relationship. I never really learned the potential depths of a man's love from him, so I assumed that most men were, are, and should be, like the closest man in my life. Like my Father: an emotionally unavailable man. That caused me to live in limbo.
I DESPISED THE FACT THAT I COULDN'T STOP CRAVING FOR HIS LOVE AND ATTENTION.
'You're so needy, Alyonka. So insufficient, co-dependent, and weak. Can't you just get over it? Get it through your head that he'll never see you the way you want to be seen.'
I was angry at him. But mostly, I was angry at myself. I loathed that I had a desire for him to see me, even though I completely comprehended the fact that he can't and that he wouldn't. I hated that I needed him to see me. I hated that I held onto hope that someday things would change. I hated me, my neediness and my stupid, naivety.
When the LOVE with S crumbled - that very same love where I finally felt seen - I decided that that was going to be the first and last time I gave myself to someone completely. I learned my lesson: to never trust anyone. I would never be fooled again into believing that I could matter to somebody.
AFTER MY BREAK-UP, I DECIDED TO START A NEW LIFE. I CHOSE A PLACE AND A CITY WHERE I DIDN'T KNOW ANYONE. PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA.
I applied to Art School, got an apartment, auditioned for a small job. A new career trajectory opened it's doors for me. I thought, if S didn't want me, then I'll become someone he couldn't ignore. I became the Online Host for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
I was killing two birds with one stone. One. I felt that if I became somebody in the world of hockey - my Father's territory - that he would finally see me. Two. I was sure that as my career evolved, S would see me, and would regret his actions and decision.
Revenge. It is a poison I do not recommend to anyone.
IN PITTSBURGH, I MET THE BOY.
He was kind, open, curious, warm, giving, patient, and vulnerable. He saw me. I hated that. I wanted nothing to do with his bullshit. He asked why I was so guarded. I told him, I'm Russian. I don't trust anyone. People are liars. They are tricksters. They want to hurt other people. People's intentions are not to be trusted. Who's to say that YOU BOY, your kindness wasn't just an act to take advantage of me? Oh no, buddy. Not this time. I promised I'd never go back there again.
HE LISTENED. HE HEARD. HE STAYED. AND HE KEPT COMING BACK. EVEN AT MY WORST.
You see, what happens is that once you've been hurt before, badly, you don't just shut yourself completely. You also become a sadist of sorts. It's a sick kind of thing, but you derive pleasure out of hurting other people. In my case, it was my most treasured weapon. I was the classic case of hurting people before they hurt me. I'd MAKE them leave, before they left me.
In time, I grew to like The Boy. In fact, I really liked him. I enjoyed the time we spent together. I loved that he gently nudged me to take down my walls. He valued me - as broken as I was. He wanted to be with me. And when these conversations started up. When he started asking if we could be together, publicly. That he wanted to share it with the world, I recoiled with vengeance. Fangs out ready to poison the relationship. It wasn't his fault. He didn't know better.
I started to do things to make him hate himself for liking me. I humiliated him publicly. I flirted with other men. I'd be hateful toward his sharing that he deeply cared- calling him weak for liking someone like me. Someone who didn't care. I'd sneer towards any acts of kindness. I'd back away from his touch. I took advantage of his vulnerability. Using him as a scapegoat. I would say horrible things to him in hopes that he would walk away. I took his heart, smeared it in a pile of shit, and then waved it triumphantly. Sometimes wiping it across his face. He warned me, that he wasn't going to stay. He cared about my past and knew of my insecurities, but this type of behavior wasn't something he could tolerate. He asked me to stop but I couldn't. I didn't care. My plan was working. I was toying with my sick need for him to walk away.
And then he did.
LIKE AN ALCOHOLIC GIVING UP THE BOTTLE. HE WAS GONE. JUST LIKE THAT.
I CAN'T FULLY ARTICULATE. WHAT HAPPENS TO SOMEONE WHEN THEY REALIZE THAT THEIR BEHAVIOR IS THE CAUSE OF THE MOST EXCRUCIATING HEARTACHE. THAT THEY'RE THE REASON FOR SOMEONE WALKING AWAY. IT IS A TYPE OF REGRET THAT BLURS INTO THE LINES OF INSANITY. FORGIVING MYSELF...I COULDN'T. I FELT LIKE I HAD KILLED A PERSON.
I called. I texted. I left voicemails. I drove to his house, begging for him to see me so that we could talk. So that I could explain how in the wrong I was. That my horrible actions were done out of fear. That I beat him up with the baggage of my past.
I practically bled for forgiveness. He didn't respond. My eyes felt like weighted gallons of acid - I was drowning in my own tears. My insides were screaming but no sounds came out of me. I was consumed by my own guilt. Gnawed up by my regret. I had flashbacks of all the moments where he SAW ME. All the moments where I punished him for doing so. When I made him feel small. When I made him feel worthless. When I made him feel stupid for believing that he could love somebody like me. Somebody so unworthy of love.
It was my fault. All of it.
IF YOU READ THIS: I'M SORRY. NO PERSON SHOULD EVER HAVE TO EXPERIENCE THAT.
I LIVED WITH THIS GUILT FOR A VERY LONG TIME. STILL, TO THIS DAY, WHEN I THINK OF THIS PERIOD OF MY LIFE OR RECOUNT THIS STORY, THE MUSCLE MEMORY KICKS IN. I FEEL THE KNOT IN MY STOMACH AND MY HEART STARTS TO ACHE. I BEGIN TO SWEAT AND MY HEAD STARTS SPINNING. REGRET IS A TERRIBLE THING.
This shaped me. It's part of who I am. I closed off even more. A shell of my being.
For the next nine years of my life, I engaged only with Emotionally Unavailable Men or with Men who held my minimal interest. I knew in the back of my mind that they wouldn't stick around, or I didn't care for them that much anyways. That felt safer than being with someone who could potentially care about me. Someone who could potentially see me.
My patterns repeated if I would meet men who were Emotionally AVAILABLE. I wouldn't be as cruel but I certainly never put down my walls. I kept those men at bay. I gave them a little but never more than that. I made them believe that I was unloveable. So they would walk away. I did everything in order to not be seen. Branded by the pains of my past, I walked in circles, wondering why things never changed. Why couldn't anyone love me?
Looking back...how could they?
I KNOW THAT I'VE PUSHED AWAY OR WALKED AWAY FROM, REALLY GOOD MEN IN MY LIFE. THIS I AM SURE OF.
I am also sure that the men who tried, who wanted to see me, who cared...they didn't deserve what they received from me. But you know, it's not entirely my fault. It is, but like I said, I didn't have that strong foundation. I didn't grow up feeling like I deserved love. So when it smacked me across the face, I couldn't see it. I didn't understand it. It made me uncomfortable and I wanted nothing to do with it. I've learned to forgive myself. I've learned to understand that if I knew better, I would have done better.
Of course my actions, the really spiteful ones, those I can't forgive. Not yet. Because I still feel those fangs come up. Yes, even though I'm aware of my defense mechanisms. I try hard to keep them at bay. You know, because I've done the work. I've processed my relationship with my Father. I've forgiven S. He's a good friend of mine now. I've let go of The Boy, even though that muscle memory comes up sharp every now and then. I've explained myself to most of the men in my life. I'm in a space of awareness. I try HARD to be better.
My fangs now? They're not as sharp. Now they show up as a strange paralyzer. I freeze when I'm seen. Like a deer in headlights. I lose all power over the work that I've done, and I stand frozen, feeling naked, and vulnerable. I am inept at handling this foreign situation. It feels awful and uncomfortable.
But I'm working through it because it's better than I was before. I try very hard to not recoil. To stay present with these unwelcome feelings.
I AM AWARE THAT I CAN'T CHANGE THE PAST. I JUST HAVE TO TRY TO BE BETTER IN THE PRESENT, TO ENSURE A BRIGHTER FUTURE. IT'S LIKE THAT SHOWING UP FROM A SPACE OF LOVE THING. IF ONLY I HAD LEARNED THAT SOONER. BUT I DIDN'T. AND THAT'S OKAY. BECAUSE I KNOW IT NOW.
MOVING FORWARD, I AM READY TO BE SEEN.
By men. By Women. By my Friends. By my Family. This platform. And, most importantly, ME.
I DESERVE TO BE LOVED. I DESERVE TO BE SEEN.
I write this for you. The Emotionally Unavailable Human. I know it's hard to love and it's even harder TO BE LOVED. I know it's scary to open your heart RIGHT NOW...but, I PROMISE. IT GETS BETTER. You too, deserve to be seen and deserve to be loved. Just like me.