I am in a very interesting position to observe one of my demons in action right now. The specific condition under which it rears its head is that of meeting someone with whom I feel strong "chemistry," and attraction physical, emotional, and spiritual, who also meets enough "rational" criteria to make the temptation to think of wanting to spend a lot of time with her seem reasonable. I try not to think this way, but most would say that the ingredients for pursuing a "long term relationship" are present.
Under these conditions, it would seem reasonable for me to be in one of two mental states - either exhilarated and excited at the luck of meeting and the possibilities, and the anticipation of seeing her again, or a state of not thinking about her, which should ideally resemble my normal mental state prior to the introduction.
Well, here's what happens in my head. This may of little use except as a "diary" type observation of myself, an opportunity perhaps to confront a highly personal perceived flaw and wrestle with it, but it may be something that other people struggle with in similar situations to a lesser or greater degree. If the latter, then my writing this could be of use if only to make others like me feel less alone. If the former, it is part of the process of trying to overcome, or at least survive with some success, this unpleasant self-induced phase.
I will try to write some more about what it is I feel, for clarity. This woman makes me crazy. While I realise spending too much time together would be silly, my desire to be with her is such that I would want to spend as much time as possible getting to know her and enjoying her. I look forward to our rather difficult to arrange meetings (right now she lives four hours away; soon she plans to move closer with a job change) with a childlike anticipation.
I struggle not to presuppose elements of what we might share, especially in the realm of the nature of whatever our relationship might develop into. I feel very strongly that preconceptions about the structure of relationships undermines their possibilitities from unfolding more than almost anything else.
I wonder if a similar form of this demon, if it is common, afflicts her - and what I can do to minimise it for her by sharing the positive things I feel. Would the same sort of thing I appreciate work for her? Or would her needs be met in some way I do not understand yet, since I do not know her well enough?
The extreme solution, another pitfall of human interaction, is to rush to a "secure" condition, one where the doubts and worries that accompany the hopes and joys are technically minimised through the sharing of promises and commitments. Commitment built to ease insecurity is, of course, a recipe for disaster. This is not what I feel like I need - what does help me through the harder moments are the little nuanced positive strokes that remind me that she is basically on the same page as me, that she enjoys me, hopes to spend more time together, that she gets a bit crazy when she thinks about me, too.
One element of this demon is, that even in the presence of such strokes, they are never enough to cover up the imaginary evidences of the potential collapse of the mutuality in the situation. Foolishly, this can even be the simple absence of endearments in a communication. Trying not to think of her is virtually pointless, since she occupies my thoughts almost of her "own" volition, seemingly beyond my own will. My inner speech is directed to her half the time, when I could be "alone" in my head and it would be fine. My mind will warp in and out of several states almost randomly.
There will be joy and delight, of course. There will be the almost narcissistic mental masturbation of running through the sweet, encouraging things that she has said, written, or done, as a kind of secondary form of this delight. Unfortunately there is a also a neurotic tendency to explore the things not said, or the implications not clearly explored, that could have unpleasant connotations in light of my desire to enjoy her more. Now, the evidences for these things are far flimsier than the evidences supporting hope and joy that she offers directly and openly. They are the tricky little extrapolations of what is "between the lines," things no stronger or clearer than hints, which taken together can be idly, carelessly, woven into a fabric of disaster.
Insecurity is the condition this resolves to - hence the popularity of the "extreme solution" described above. But do I only see it that way due to the way I experience this period? Since I feel insecure, do I project that onto other peoples decisions to make commitments to each other? I cannot tell at this point. The trouble with insecurity, of course, is that it is an ugly, unattractive trait and can lead rapidly and directly to the dissolution of whatver "might have been." After all, who wants to spend time with an insecure neurotic?
I should not be a candidate for such insecurity, one would think. I seem to have a fairly strong, flexible ego, and a great deal of self confidence and esteem, patience (usually), and an easygoing philosophical attitude about most of life's stresses. In this light, it seems that the whole problem is one of thinking too much aobut it - reading too much into things that have no meaning - and letting them live in me as if they were as real as the clearly stated affections.
Perhaps this is a result of my tendency to try to "get high" on the memory and anticipation of the pleasures, instead of enjoying them as they happen and living apart from them when they are absent. This certainly corresponds with the way I think life is best enjoyed - a good healthy grip on enjoying the present, seasoned with some warm memories and positive goals and hopes - but just seasoned, not soaked in them. Under the present conditions, that is, with her out of reach for days at a time, perhaps the seasonings become my fix for the absence of the meal, when I should be living in my present, which only yesterday was perfectly fine and happy.
It might be a good time to relate an emotional pattern I have observed in myself over and over again. It is essentially a three day or so cycle in the immediate aftermath of what might be called a "good date." The following day, my head is full of glowing warmth and joyful memories, representations of the good that was shared and anticipations and hopes that it will be repeated. The second day sees the entrance of the shadowy creatures of my imagination, the foolish thoughts of the dumb things I said, the times I interrupted, the questions I did not answer - the perceived errors of my ways. While not a direct assault on my confidence, these little things, which might ordinarily be appropriate to remember and address (to apologise for rudeness later but as soon as possible, for example, or to ask for the story that was hinted at but not brought out) do not have the structure yet in which to express themselves in a healthy fashion. For at this point, there is often a lack of information about the next meeting, and certainly a lack of knowledge about the her acceptance of my "flaws" and mutual excitement at future meetings.
The third day (I am writing this on the second day, technically... no, it's the third - oops, that makes more sense!) contains the bitter seeds of suffering. The elements and hints exaggerated and made almost real on the second day somehow gain a foothold equal to the good things in my reality - a reality that will contain no hope, a lot of needless suffering and a ridiculous need to have my neurotic insecurities calmed and assuaged by her.
Now, as I asked in another way earlier, who would want to meet that burden in another person? I know I would rather offer up my strokes, my hopes, and my compliments against a neutral or positive background, thus increasing an already joyous persons happiness. They may have a worry or a concern, which is all right - it does make sense to have a few, and addressing them as they come up seems harmless. But the state of mind into which I work myself up is far more insidious than that - it does not speak of simple worry or slight misunderstanding - it yawns like a chasm at my feet, threatening to engulf me - and seems like it can only be filled by copious, gratuitous quantities of affirmation. Even if it suddenly vanishes at the sound of her voice on the telephone, it has affected me in the meantime, changed who I am slightly, and not for the better I suspect.
I really cannot stand this. I am a fairly steady-nerved, easygoing, confident, happy, friendly person. I bring many interesting and widely varied elements and experiences to my conversations. In this condition, which occurs at a time when those tools, those traits, will be most endearing, I find myself coated with a layer of painful insecurity and neediness! What I want is to find a panacea, a magic bullet, a mantra, a way to quell the frustrations and silence the nagging doubts which have so little substance - so I might continue to be, not the "best" me, but the "real" me. The "best" me is unnecessary - it is the pretense, the cover by which we endear ourselves to new people. The "real" me is good enough, I think - and to those who value the sincerity of it, a better face to wear than any possible version of the "best" me.
The "real" me is the "best" me and should be kept simply and purely engaged. It does not help to have the "worst" me grinding its teeth on the joyful morsels and spitting them out as unrecognizable, slimy bits of my unconscious! All I need, the tool I feel I should be able to find, one way or another, is to maintain an even keel - ideally to quell the meaningless insecurities competely, but a reasonable solution would be to minimise them, ground them out, eliminate them from participating unnecessarily in my "persona."
If nothing else, the difference this time is the extremely explicit perspective I have on this demon - which I can only take as an opportunity to get it out in the open where I can wrestle it in a fair fight, or at least come to understand why we have to live together, and try to figure out an acceptable compromise solution. Perhaps there is even some useful task to which this little monster can be put to, where its special talents will bring me gain instead of loss.
For if the demon is allowed free rein in this arena, this way, it will kill the potential as quickly and surely as is possible.
© Huw Powell