Christine, Wondering

Random Musings of a Human Becoming

Friday, October 31, 2008

Changing Hurts.

Growing pains of the soul and mind are no less painful than those of the body.

At the moment I'm digging deep into my childhood, doing the work I need to do to understand why I get pulled into negative relationships time and time again. Part of the answer is the straightforward issue of being an Aspie growing up in a neurotypical word which has given me a desperate need to belong, to be normal, to be seen as fitting in. Sticking with bananaheads because being in a grown-up relationship made me one of the "real people" is part of my problem.

But the more painful issue is one of sibling dynamics. Throughout my childhood, my brother was the one who acted up and acted out. Not that he had no reason - diagnosed with ADHD and undiagnosed with Aspergers, he didn't exactly have it easy. But his problems were so visible. He got into trouble, he had manic episodes, he broke windows, he had to change schools so many times because the staff were running out of patience with his issues. Not all the time - not every day - but he was certainly a high-maintenance child.

I was the opposite. I never acted out, and when my problems did bubble to the surface, they came in the form of hysterics and inconsolable tears. I was a withdrawn, introverted child, the polar opposite of my brother. My problems were no less severe - diagnosed ADD and undiagnosed Aspergers - but I was no trouble. My brother received the lion's share of everyone's attention, because he had to. He needed it, for sure. But I needed it too . . . and never got it. That is the great unmet need of my childhood - for someone to look past the fact that my brother was loud and I was quiet, and realise that I needed help too.

Time and time again, when my brother worked himself up into a state and started acting out, my parents would rescue him - new school, new counsellor, new hobby etc. For years and years and years I waited for my parents to rescue me too. I just knew that sooner or later they would realise just how much pain I was in, how much I was struggling at school, and pull me out, find me a school that would work for me. It never happened . . . because they never knew. And I never asked for help. How could I ask, when my brother so clearly needed their attention more than I?

One effect of this dynamic is relatively easy to deal with: I need to learn to acknowledge my own needs, recognise them as valid, and be prepared to stand up for them. Another effect . . . not so easy. I have to ask myself: do I get into these relationships where I am still suffering and still living out that silently-going-crazy coping role because I am still waiting to be rescued? Is the part of me that puts up with these relationships that same little girl who waited all those years for someone to notice the pain? Am I unable to say no to crazy-making situations because it's my way of giving the universe / my peers / my parents / others one last chance to do what I needed them to do all those years ago?

I have to put that pain to bed forever before I can let someone into my life. I need to make peace with the fact that child-Christine and teen-Christine are never going to be rescued. I have to learn to live with how it was, not how it should have been.

I haven't the faintest idea where to start, but I'll get there somehow.

I'm watching "The Holiday" this evening and want to share this quote:

Iris: "I wanted to get away from one guy, an ex-boyfriend who just got engaged and forgot to tell me."
Arthur: "So, he’s a schmuck."
Iris: "As a matter of fact he is a huge schmuck . . . how did you know?"
Arthur: "He let you go. This is not a hard one to figure out."



I suppose it's simplistic to say that we tend to fall into situations that are familiar, even if they are painful and unhealthy. But it's true. The old saying, "Better the devil you know...".I guess this dynamic was recognized years ago, but we still have to keep inventing the wheel. So, good on you, for digging deep into the painful parts of your past life. And soon, you'll recognize if this sort of relationship is developing agan, and say, "I'm not that woman any more."
Wishing you very good luck!
Not anon., it's Tassie.
You're right, Tassie - the familiarity element is a key too. Relationships where I feel put down and miserable and crazy are attractive because I get to thinking "well, life is just like this and the crazy-making relationships are my place in life, so my childhood must have been okay after all". Typical survivor's response! I have to recognise that it WASN'T okay then, and learn that I AM okay now.

Thankyou for that insight!

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