Emotional Work

Day 137 and Feeling Invaded

The line between feeling abandonment and invaded is thin for me. Being a child that often felt abandoned by my successful but distant father ingrained in me a fascinating pattern as an adult. I fear that I won’t be chosen, but when someone does choose me I easily tip right over into feeling invaded. I suspect this is a pattern many others will recognize.

There is a deep yearning to be the priority. My desire to be the one that gets picked is so strong. Such is the lingering fear of abandonment on the inner child. But because I have more comfort and recognition in the feeling of abandonment, when someone shows up for me it’s a swift inversion to the feeling of being invaded.

How dare this person who I so desperately wished would choose me then actually choose me! I will then become shy, distant, evasive and cold as the feeling that someone has overstepped their boundaries (which they haven’t) makes me retreat. For anyone who has ever been so sure that someone gave them all the signals of desire only to have it feel as if it was yanked away, this is the pattern your desired may be reenacting.

Because the consequence of being wanted is, well, being wanted. They desire something of me. I don’t even just mean this of friends or sexual partners. I can be thrilled that someone has chosen to work or collaborate with me and then when they approach me as if I have committed to them I will seize up with anxiety. The agony I feel at someone wanting something from me even when I gave them every indication that I want to give that thing to them is intense. My chronic fear of calendars is a deeply comical manifestation of this fear. I’ll spend an entire day agonizing over one short phone call in an otherwise empty day.

I doubt I’m special in this pattern of yearning and retreat. One of the most quoted lines from Star Trek is Spock noting “After a time, you may find that ‘having’ is not so pleasing a thing after all as ‘wanting. ‘ It is not logical, but it is often true.” For me it is often true and it is a pattern I wish to break. For when I reach out and offer my time and emotions to others I do mean it. The fear of invasion and patterns of retreat are simply a reactive pattern from my childhood. It is protective, and even in the mind of a child, logical. But children’s logic can only take you so far in life. As an adult I take responsibility for my emotions and through mindfulness can move beyond it.