Chaos Attraction

SunShines Series #3: Other People Suck You Dry

2006-12-21, 6:39 p.m.

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(Third in a series.)

So, following up from last time, I made a point about how other people aren't always so fun to be around. Which, uh, is really why those of us who love the independent life found it appealing in the first place. Because HELL IS OTHER PEOPLE.

To be fair, Michael Lutin actually acknowledges that people can suck you dry and that's why you aren't so inclined to get on with the bonding and the nuturing as others are.

"But because you find working with and talking with people a strain, sometimes the release you need is just to run away and hide for a while, only to find that the more alone you get, the worse you feel."

"Of course, this serves to only exhaust you. Then you have to run away, escape the very people who want to support, love, and adore you, because the stress of being everything to everyone is just too much. You have to get off by yourself. Alone again. There you are. This kind of aloneness is deep, private, and inexpressible, and before you realize how much you need people around you, it can culminate in a swing downward into self-pity and anger. You get angry because you have to live for others, do for others, please others, serve others, take care of others, and it's damned exhausting."

"You need your space and your autonomy, because people do make demands and exert pressure. Their needs keep you from taking care of your own needs and you resent it. It's a paradox, because when you do get rid of them and curl up in your own little ball of solitude, you're not happy. In fact, you can feel pretty lousy about yourself when you are not in a relationship."

Well, I USED to feel like that last sentence. I haven't felt like that in years, though. (Go me for evolving n' shit.) But as a general rule, yeah. Taking care of other people is something that takes away from taking care of yourself. It's a tricky balance, and not one that I'm particularly good at. Especially when I got raised that martyrdom is YAY! and all that.

I've been to buttloads of discussions and lectures by now about how "you have to take care of yourself while caregiving." But the thing nobody ever really gets into is, when it's a choice of them or you, how do you deal with that?

I'm the bitch who's inclined towards "me," so all I do is piss people off. Mom does the martyr thing and everyone thinks she's fabulous. So I know which way I'm supposed to go. I just suck at it. Trying the martyr thing just makes me bitchier, not doing it makes me feel guilty. Can't win no matter what I do.

And bottom line, being needed drives me up the goddamned wall.

Likewise, I don't want to be the needy one any more. I used to be that girl, 100%. I've managed to drastically decrease my needy-ass behavior. I'm not out of the woods all the way on this (ahem, my not driving...the unfortunate thing with that being that you have to fucking have someone help you in order to not need people to drive you, and I drove so bad I scared the shit out of all comers there), but I'm a LOT better at the independence thing, and it's awesome. Plus, uh, having a dependent family situation certainly doesn't make being utterly physically needy an appealing prospect.

This brings us back to Michael Lutin once again:

"It still irritates you to think that you might not be able to function on your own without support."


Another thing that's important to mention in this: you depend on people, people may or may not come through for you. You REALLY NEED people...and that's the best way to make them run screaming from you. Depending on someone else to be there for you, to take care of you, to make you feel good and fuzzy and like you exist in the world (ahem, MOTHER)...and you end up alone again, naturally.

The best way to handle such things, I think, is to make "needing people" more of an optional thing. Always be able to manage on your own if you absolutely have to, because odds are, at some time, you will be unable to count on someone else to take care of your ass.

I'm proud of the self-sufficiency I've done, dammit. I don't want to backslide, or go whining to someone that I need help because I'm stoopid and I don't understand (something I had to do in almost every damn math class from first through twelfth grades), or to get help unless I absolutely can't manage on my own.

I don't see what's so goddamned bad about that.

"You don't easily surrender to the truth that you are not an island, a 100 percent autonomous being."

Yup. I wish I could be. I know that's not 100% attainable, but sometime I'd like to at least make it into the 90's.

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