Patterns like Patches On A Quilt

Hello cyber world!

I know it’s been a while- life is for living, I suppose, and there are times for living and times for sharing, and times for both. Anyway today I want to talk about patterns and commitment

For years I’ve carried this tendency to obsess about the men in my life. When I was six, I absolutely knew I’d marry this kid Victor. At age 11 I started crushing on this boy James, and spent four years liking him- four years of obsession, of pushing hard to get his attention, of tormenting myself with wanting someone who didn’t want me.

Once I started dating at 15, when the relationship was over, I’d either obsess about the person, or find someone new to fixate on. This pattern has shown up consistently through my young adult life.

The craziest part about all this is that I normally don’t even really like the person, I just transpose what I want them to be and use their name, face, etc. to construct a wild fantasy in my mind. Which ends up bursting aflame soon after.

The two years following the end of my engagement, I crushed hard on Merlin because it was easy to feel romantic about someone so supportive in my life, and easier still to place my wounded heart in his keeping. I could fool around with men without knowing them at all, and at the end of the day still come back to the comforting idea that one day, somehow, I’d be with my true love, my teacher, and that the person I just had fun with meant nothing. It seemed fun at first, but every man, every time, brought a deeper sense of abhorrent self-depletion. I couldn’t pretend that my choices were filling my heart anymore.

One day, while trekking a beautiful mountain on New Zealand’s North Island, Merlin walking alongside me, I said, “It feels like Gollum is just over there in that brook and that we’ll see him.”

“Well since you brought it up, what qualities of Gollum do you remember?” Merlin replied.

“He’s a shell of what he was because he was so obsessed with the ring, and so possessive of it. Possessing it was so important he’d kill and die for it.” I said, beginning to see the correlation.

“Do you know what that feels like? You know, being possessive of something, or someone.”

“Argh!” I yelled, “Yes. For as long as I can remember I’ve spent so much time and energy obsessing about one person, making them a thing to possess, not caring about anything except getting what I want. I even did that with you!”

“Yes,  you did. You didn’t even ask me how I felt, you pushed how you wanted me to feel and when I set a boundary, you took it personally. What made you think we were compatible in that way? Or that I would want to be with you romantically?”

“I guess I assumed you’d enjoy it because we get along so well and I’d never had a man treat me the way you do before.”

“Don’t you see now that meaningful connection can be had outside the realm of romance?”

“Well yes, but even now I feel an attraction to you and a remorse for what will never be between us.”

“I’ve never said it before like this because you weren’t ready to hear it but I am saying it now to all aspects of you: I am not attracted to you at all. Rather, I’m not attracted to you romantically. If you were the last person, I still wouldn’t be with you.”

As he spoke that truth two things happened- I felt an air of rejection so firm that I knew the boundary, which had been there all along, was never to be crossed. And I felt release. All that obsession drifted and was replaced by an immense gratitude for his patience and kindness. All the time we spent in working on truth built the foundation for me to see the real connection with my teacher, and validate further that love can be felt in many facets.

This resulted in a deeper connection and more expansive relationship as I accepted our roles of teacher and student. Now I tell him I love him and it is not said with underlying wishes to be his lover, but in appreciation for what is. It’s been important for me to realize what is and what is not- the difference is so real and tangible, and sometimes so hard to see in the moment!

This is not to say I released obsessive tendencies toward men. But I finally see a way to shift that pattern and like many things it seems it will take immense effort. And I wonder what it will look like to have no need to expend energy on obsessions, on unreciprocating relationships, on anything but me.

Thanks for receiving this. And if it resonates, I invite you to take note of those patterns that are oddly comforting yet self-destructive.

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