For someone to have your best interests at heart, I guess it would help for them to know what your best interests actually are. It recently occurred to me that I don’t think I’ve ever really tried to make anyone understand what my best interests might be. Which is interesting, since I think that I’ve led a life that has been solely about me, myself and I from childhood onward. I think, because I lack the ability to trust people in such a deep way, I’ve always figured that my best interests wouldn’t matter to them even if they did know them, so it was better to keep them secreted away—therefore, hopefully, they could be protected by me (for the most part).
This is a deeply cynical way to live, even though, on the surface, I’ve always been one to denounce cynicism and cynical people. I guess this seemed different to me. I can trust that the world is basically good, and that people, in their hearts, do want the best for one another. But I guess I just don’t think this rule applies to me.
I remember, when I was about fourteen or fifteen, I had a boy in my bedroom after school. This occasion was the first time I touched a penis on my own accord. That evening, my mother’s prize of a boyfriend let me know that he’d been listening at my bedroom door, and repeated to me what I’d said during that event.
From that point on, I’ve had a paranoid fear that if anyone knew anything about my sex life (or even just my life, really), they would use it against me to humiliate me. I’ve kept my private life under very tight raps, and would freak out if I felt like anyone knew anything that I hadn’t myself told them. Sometimes they did know things. Sometimes they did use things against me, repeating a dynamic set up in my childhood. Often, I think it was my paranoia getting the better of me.
I have always had this deep fear inside myself that whatever I did that made me happy was doomed to be destroyed by someone else. Whenever I’ve felt a deep sense of happiness, my second thought has always been: “What or who is going to take this feeling away from me?” I’ve tried to prevent that feeling, to live a life with minimal happiness, because I’ve felt like I was very stupid for having it. It was only going to be taken away from me.
So, this has created a superficially socially gregarious/extreme loner personality. I find it very difficult (at times, impossible) to rely on anyone or any situation to work out for the best for me. The last thing I’ve wanted to do was let people in on what I truly desired and cared about, since that seemed like I was basically providing them with the knife needed to stab me in the back. I created many friendships that were friendships in name only, shallow and superficial and usually related to some work interest. I wanted people around me so I wouldn’t feel “lonely”—but I didn’t really want them to know me. And, in turn, I discovered people who didn’t want to know me, and were more than happy to stay superficial. Usually they felt they could extract a use from me—if they had social anxiety, I could make them feel more comfortable, since I am comfortable being superficially social. If they weren’t seen as super smart, I could (in some circles) confer a sense of intelligence.
Of course, no life constructed on such thin ice can last forever. Up until maybe seven or eight years ago, I had a habit of developing crushes on men I liked talking to but was not sexually attracted to, and getting together with extremely inappropriate people who weren’t “boyfriend material,” but were easy to get together with at parties (I hated talking to someone on a “date.” I did and do have a hard time with doing an activity, like eating dinner, with a stranger, as a prelude to intimacy. It feels very disconnected to me. Very transactional and not fun). My life has always been basically me, myself and I—super career-focused—and I never imagined what it would even be like to have a boyfriend, simply because I really hadn’t worked together all the puzzle pieces that this status seemed to require. I could only feel aroused by myself, I could only really talk to men who were a very specific blend of intelligent and avoidant, I didn’t like to be touched, and I only got into sexual situations with the literal bad boys. On top of this I was dissociative during intimacy.
But then I met someone through work who I really liked to talk to—a very different kind of person from anyone I’d ever been around. I used to look at him and think, “this man was born sweet.” He was also quite masculine and headstrong, and I found that attractive. I got to know this person slowly, and something inside me began to change. I began to feel all these disparate feelings collect into something new. When he would embrace me, I would melt into his touch and feel my whole body buzz with feeling. I loved taking to him. I deeply desired him. I loved his touch. I truly trusted him, even though we were very different people who needed different things and wanted different lives. All of these things were scary, yet I didn’t feel scared of him, or to be with him. This situation did not work out because we were simply too different (which is a very painful and very adult thing to realize), but it was the first glimpse I’d ever had into what being in love with someone could be like. I never wanted it to end, and when it did end I was devastated. Yet it awoke something in me that was so strong and so powerful, I knew it all had happened for a reason, and that this person was put into my life to help me.
So now I am trying to figure out what my best interests are, so I could maybe let a few people in on those! Might be a good idea. I think people have always thought my work was my biggest thing for me. Truthfully, work has been the biggest thing for me simply because it is the only thing I’ve ever actually been good at maintaining long-term. It has also been the only thing that has ever made me feel safe and secure. And as much as I’ve appreciated that in the past, I now see how my laser focus on work, and my constant hopping around from different position, different “role,” different type of writing, has truly only been in the interest of keeping me from committing to anyone and anything. Keeping me spinning in the air—no sense of direction, but a constant thrill of movement. I’ve had to enter a pretty radical situation to figure out that this can’t sustain itself. While on one level I’m scared, I’m also very excited to finally live a life that will allow me to reach for what it might feel like to be happy—without fearing that this happiness will forever be stolen away from me.