Friday, December 15, 2006

Been living in Cape FEAR....

It really is funny how much havoc an emotion named FEAR can create. And, not funny ha-ha, either.

And, funny how humiliating it was when I realized if I'd just shaken off a little teensy fear in the beginning of something, nipped it in the bud right as it first creeped in, that it would have spared me a ton of stress, dilemma, and in the end, embarrassment.

But, I eat crow pretty well, well enough to share all of this with ya'll. Because, you see, the eternal helper in me can't let a potential teaching opportunity go by, right?

(Read: I'm making lemonade out of lemons, seeing the silver lining, looking at the glass half-full....)

Ok, remember this list of flaws - they come into play with the whole situation:



  • I don't trust my gut nearly as much as I should
  • I assume ulterior motives on the behalf of others much more than I should
  • Those two combined make me overanalyze to the point of obsession

Add to it these facts:

  • I'm young
  • I have had weird male relationship dynamics all my life
  • I'm in a somewhat vulnerable phase as I try to figure out what growing up looks like

Hold on to your hats, y'all, this is a doozy, courtesy of my tendency to over-worry and focus on the what ifs instead of the things that are.

During the process of the Homeless Count, I made a friend. A male friend. An older male friend. We had this pretty instant connection - a clicking of personalities type connection, for clarifying purposes.

He was interested in me and my work, and very complimentary about it.

This is where my crappy self-esteem and seeing people with ulterior motives comes in. Enter a ridiculous thought, steeped in fear: He's midlife, you're young, you have fun together - nothing good can come of this!

But, because he was proving to be a good friend, I tried to bury this fear, instead of just putting it out on the table so we could, as it would turn out, laugh, and say, "No way, that ain't happenin'!"

And b/c I'm young, married to the first real boyfriend I ever had, and totally inexperienced at platonic relationships outside of, "Hey, how was your weekend," at work, my fears were fed each time we interracted. Meaning, I wasn't sure of myself enought to take "whaddya doing" at face value and not turn it into a knowing, "how you doin'?"

So every sign of interest in me was then blown up into mythic proportions, in my head.

Again, all this could have been totally put to rest if I simply exposed my fears.

Then, I quit trusting myself. He's nice to me, and believes in my potential for the work we do - therefore, he is a threat to my marriage b/c he meets an emotional need for me that Charlie Brown isn't quite so great at. Except that, I am reasonable enough to know that good ole Chuck isn't going to meet every little need I have - nor do I espect him to. I have girlfriends who believe in me and help fulfill that emotional need too - there's no problem there. But I basically convinced myself that I couldn't be trusted, not in this emotional needs-meeting, midlife/young combo.

Enter some marital stress, and before you know it, in my head, I'm all paranoid, all, you can't talk to him anymore, it's too risky. But the part of me that trusted myself was like, CAN TOO! and they warred inside me.

And yesterday, it all came to a head when the friend e-mailed me. I e-mailed him back all frenzied...silly woman. He, of course, was completely stymied - HUH??? I wrote back, saying:


....I like spending time with you - to the point of really missing you this
week. But I am not so experienced at this opposite sex friendship thing while
married. What used to be clear lines are now blurry in my heart....I'm probably
saying way too much and making this all awkward now....but I don't want you to
think I'm mad at you - b/c I'm not.


Thank God he is a good friend, and was very gentle with me:




So everything is cool then...that's great! I can be a very good friend most of
the time but must have sent the wrong signals, I would be honored to be friends
if that works, okay..anything else and my wife would kick my ass!
And finally, the light of truth exposed my fear to be exactly what Teddy Roosevelt meant when he spoke about fear. My fear was nothing! Unsubstantiated speculation. I was fearing fear itself.

In the meantime, I'd been analyzing and analyzing things to death, agonizing over the what ifs.

All avoidable if only I had been true to myself by openly laying out any doubts in my mind, trusted my gut in that we are just friends, and then just rolling with it. But, I am a woman, afterall, and had to use all my booksmarts on relationships and their demise, to make a big frickin' mountain out of not even a molehill.

I stand by my final response to him yesterday:



I'm embarrassed now.........but very relieved.
Yes, all is cool....And you are a good friend...thanks for gently clarifying - it helps me a lot.
In the meantime, I know that I have a bunch of things to work on now...

  • Keeping things in the light, even especially when there are fears behind the dark
  • Making boundaries clear in the beginning so I can avoid embarrassment and doubts later
  • Several of the marital insecurities that popped up need to be strengthened

and,

  • I need to quit thinking so damned much!

I know Charlie Brown will amen those last two, particularly the very last one.

Thankfully, I'll soon have school to occupy all of my free thought time and my friendships can be blessedly free of needless analyzing.

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