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#247657 - 09/01/08 05:32 AM Puzzled
Bewlayb1 Offline

Registered: 08/04/07
Posts: 243
Loc: NYC
Does anyone else feel as if their mind is a puzzle?

I've been taking a break from men ever since I broke up with my boyfriend in early April. I posted here when we first met, and I should have listened to all of you when you warned me he was no good. He was my first boyfriend. He's eight years older than I am, much taller, much bigger, and an unstable asshole. The way he treated me continues to hurt my pride. I can't stop thinking about it.

I've trying to understand why I was with him. I know that the fault is my own. I'm young, attractive, intelligent. A lot of men are interested in me. I have my pick, yet I choose the worst of the worst. I thought I was over that. But last week, I was reminded again of my questionable taste.

I went to one bar. I talked for awhile with a guy who was a few years younger than I am. He was nice, smart, handsome. I just didn't feel anything. Worse, I found him irritating. I don't even know why. I went out for a cigarette, disappeared for half an hour with a friend, then quickly hopped to another bar.

As soon as I arrived, a young, muscular, Australian, businessman started talking to me. He was jumpy, hyper and seemed a little out of it, but I really liked him. After he staggered away, I asked my friends what they thought of him. They were all in consensus that he was probably on coke.

It's hopeless.

To further complicate matters, I've developed a crush on a woman in my office. I got transferred to a new department two weeks ago. She's thirty eight. I'm twenty-six. She has a boyfriend. She's very beautiful. I have fun flirting with her and look forward to seeing her everyday. Oddly, she's a deadringer for a lesbian I had a major crush on awhile back. She's older, but both are tall, very thin, light-skinned African Americans. They act somewhat similar: funny, playfully self-absorbed, raunchy, maternal. As with my earlier crush, it seems to be a dead end.

Why do I like what I like? Even I realize that my choices are bizarre. Is it possible to figure out? If so, is it possible to change how I feel?

I have a theory. Following the two years of sexual abuse by a teacher, I stopped talking almost completely for a decade, or so. I was eighteen when I first developed social skills. I immediately developed an attraction for two men. One was vaguely feminine, emotionally aloof, yet gentle to me in an almost motherly way. I never felt as if I was good enough for him. He probably encouraged that sentiment. He liked me. But I wasn't mentally ready at all. I think he sensed that. The other was unstable, moody, masculine and physically much bigger than me. I ended up with neither, but the ones I like seem to fall into one of these two categories.

More so, these two types resemble the personalities of the most important figures in my life: mom and dad. My mother is emotionally distant. She's instilled in all her children the notion that they aren't good enough. She never compliments us on anything we do. We're always trying to impress her. She's an alcoholic, yet, in her damaged way, she cherishes her role as mother. I remember always lying on her lap when I was very young. My father is eccentric, unstable and constantly depressed. Many of my childhood thoughts were focused on wanting to help him.

It may only be a coincidence. I'm simply trying to work things out. My mind and my sexuality got so fucked up by those two years of rape. Is my brain still caught in an early stage of development? Love, after all, must stem from our relationship with our parents. Maybe, due to the trauma, I never grew beyond that. On the other hand, everyone is attracted to their parents on some level. I doubt even Sigmund Freud could give me an answer.

Anyway, I'm going to go back to my thinking. Do any of you find obsessing helpful? I don't know if it is for me, but like any good puzzle, it passes the time.

During my self-imposed isolation, I worked on a poem. I posted it here a few days ago. There's a link below.

#247731 - 09/01/08 07:22 PM Re: Puzzled [Re: Bewlayb1]
M3 Offline

Registered: 09/05/07
Posts: 1392
Loc: Central Ohio
Yes, a very difficult puzzle, but it's not hopeless!


I spend much time trying to fit the pieces together, and through my work in therapy, the pieces seem to be falling into place much easier these days, even though the puzzle seem to be getting bigger and more complicated as I uncover more.

The day I first disclosed my abuse was also the day I came out. Though I didn't date right away, I found that the men I dated fell into two categories. The first was the "he's damaged but I can fix him" category. Men who were in bad situations and desperate to find a way out and willing to use anyone, like me, to get what they thought they wanted. The second, I later realized, were men who treated me not much differently than my abusers, a object that they could show off and do with as they please. Neither group of men showed any real emotional attachment to me. I repeated this pattern for years with few exceptions.

When I was reading your post, I thought, "I wonder what his parents were like." You obviously are coming to the understanding that you may be dating men that can fill the role of one of your parents. You should talk to you therapist (if you have one) about that - i.e., why do you look have these roles filled, what do you feel you are missing, is it your inner child that needs those roles filled for him.

As for picking better dates, here's what works for me:
1) Go slow. No making out or anything on the first few dates. Don't make the first date long (coffee, or lunch) and make sure they are where you can spend time talking so you get to know him better.
2) Meet the friends. Have him meet your friends early in and get their feedback. If you aren't trusting yourself to pick the right men, trust them!
3) Don't focus on how hot the guy may be or how many interests you have in common, but focus on what you want out of a relationship: is he emotionally available, is he caring, is he interested in me as a person, does he listen, how does he respond when I ask him a question, etc. This way you can spot some of the red flags earlier, before you get invested into the relationship.
4) Spend time analyzing what you have learned about this man and the feedback from your friends and see if it jives with the way you feel.

It takes some practice, but it has worked for me. I think this has allowed me to realize that what I mistook before for love, wasn't. The men that I've been meeting, and the man that I am now dating, are not the same men. My current boyfriend is so different from the men I used to date it is shocking and my friends adore him. The relationship has been easy so far, like a comfortable glove, because he is a very caring and compassionate person and is really interested in me.

You asked if any of us find obsession helpful. If you are simply trying to put the puzzle together by stopping to analyze and reflect, yes, it can be helpful, especially when you add in other's opinions to help you sort that out (like a therapist). If you are simply ruminating on bad decisions, hurtful memories and your past abuse, it is not only not helpful, but can be harmful. Some studies show that this can increase the frequency and intensity of depression.

Don't isolate yourself! For fun, let your friends pick out the guys you talk to. Don't worry if they lead to anything. Just have fun and meet people. Just be sure to take care of yourself first!


#247761 - 09/01/08 10:19 PM Re: Puzzled [Re: M3]
Bewlayb1 Offline

Registered: 08/04/07
Posts: 243
Loc: NYC
Thanks Michael. That was actually really good advice. You can get hopelessly lost in self-reflection. A mind is way too complex to ever fully understand. For example, sometimes I like men who have similar attributes to my abuser. They'll speak, and their voice will bring me back to those years. It chills me. And, do I like African American women because my mother is dark-skinned? She's Cuban, but I'm about as pale as a ghost.

I'm definitely learning to let my friends help me choose my love-interests. I never listened to them before. But my taste in friends is much better than my taste in lovers. I will take my time. I have to. The first relationship I was in developed so quickly and before I knew it, I felt trapped. The only thing is, it's hard for me to give someone a chance if I don't feel something for them right away. It's either all or nothing with me. But you're right. Dating takes practice, and discipline.

That was a great reply. I'll probably keep going back to it when I feel myself going down the wrong path again.

#247779 - 09/02/08 12:39 AM Re: Puzzled [Re: Bewlayb1]
M3 Offline

Registered: 09/05/07
Posts: 1392
Loc: Central Ohio
And you know where to find me if you want to bounce ideas off someone!

#248466 - 09/07/08 01:28 PM Re: Puzzled [Re: Bewlayb1]
Joel Rosset Offline

Registered: 08/21/08
Posts: 45
Loc: Canada
I try to never give other people advise about what it is I think they should do for themselves. I've been at this recovery/reconstruction thing for many years now and I in no way consider myself an expert even yet. However, I'm going to break my golden rule and go with this: Get thyself to yon local librairy and kick start your self discovery with anything by John Bradshaw. Oh and this too: there is a great difference between obsessing (destructive) and introspection (healthy).

But you are right, though. Putting it all together is like making a puzzle. You already have the picture on the box (look in the mirror), now ain't that a pretty picture! Now just find the pieces that make up the picture!

Wise souls are deeply scarred


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