Sandpaper. 500 Grit.

It’s been a bit rough lately. But that’s the way of it, and it’s not a permanent thing. Just right now.

There’s a theme in my life that I desperately want–and need–to combat with serious authority, and I’m having an extremely difficult time doing it. Quite simply, I care too much about other people’s feelings, and care too much about other people’s opinions of me, and I let it shape my life even though it eats me up, and sucks me dry. Everyone, from the postman to the drunk on the corner to the ex-girlfriend to the shitty customer, seems to have a much greater priority in my life than myself. Yet I don’t seem willing to do anything about it. I don’t think I know how.

I am an even-keeled facilitator, and I desperately want to be relied upon so much that I will do *anything* in my power not to let others down, even to my own detriment. This has now become a noticeable problem, and it hinders me from doing the important work that I need to do…on myself, and to be a better and more complete person. If I don’t have the energy to devote to someone else’s project or issue, I’ll take it on anyway, and I do that not just because I want to be helpful. I do it because I can’t say no–I can’t deny anyone whom I care about, because I know how terrible it feels to be denied…attention, respect, or help of any kind. So I keep spouting these things forth like an unyielding fountain, never expecting to run out of beneficial and deferential syrups. This unhealthy sympathetic empathy carries on to people I don’t even know. I’ve gotten in the habit of giving myself up.

In fact, even a post like this that contains so many dastardly little occurrences of the short but poignant word, “I” is difficult for me to justify, on the grounds that it is some sort of burden on those that are taking the time out of their busy days to read it. I write here to offer insight, and make people smile, right? It’s not a tool of self-reflection, is it? This, of course, is ridiculous, especially when abutted against the massive proliferation of self-centered whiners and narcissistic egoists so prevalent on the Internet. But I can’t help but feel that I contribute to it with introspective or self-focused monologues to help me define who I am and what I’m going through. And I’m not saying here how giving and terrific I am, I’m saying how fragile and anemic I am.

What I’ve come up with is that every time I’ve ever stood up for myself, and dictated to others what I need, I’ve been rebuffed, denied, or simply abandoned. By friends, lovers, parents–you name it. Not always, but often. It’s so rare that I make demands of any kind, and when I have done so, you can bet it’s been what I deem as an absolute necessity. But no one likes to hear demands, and no one would willfully give in to someone else’s needs when posited in such a way. Except me. So invariably, I continue to give and be strong and present, and I remain silent when I need something in return, because I don’t want to burden anyone with my own needs. And my experience shows me anyway that doing so doesn’t net any results. In fact, doing so gets punished. Better to stay silent and accommodating, in the hopes that one day, these people might see it, and the door will still be open for reconciliation, apology, or just a new sort of appreciation.

This is ridiculous. What I’d really like to do is say either “FUCK YOU” to certain people, and “I need some Darren time” to others. But I stay quiet, because that’s what I’ve been trained to do. And I owe it mostly to myself, and my inability to accept the fact that someone may not like me if I do this. Sometimes they come around to apologize, and sometimes they never knew I needed anything at all. And sometimes we just drift away, and pretend that nothing is wrong, but inside I’m being grated with coarse-grit industrial sandpaper in the pit of my stomach…because I can’t stand up for myself and say what I need, and what I think. Because it won’t matter, even if I did.

I think I need to think…and need.

Tell me there are more like us…

34 Responses to “Sandpaper. 500 Grit.”

  1. nickys Says:
    February 20th, 2004 at 11:54 am

    > Tell me there are more like us…
    Yes, I also suffer from empathy, a need to help people, and an enduring compulsion not to put up with unfairness even if I'm not the primary victim of it.
    All I can really say is : try not to judge yourself more harshly than you judge other people.
    You obviously know how to allow other people some slack when they fail, so the trick is to learn to be equally forgiving to yourself when you fail.
    And remember that, in the long run, you'll be able to be more helpful to people if you meet your own needs first. It's no use burning out on dealing with stuff, because then you just collapse and can't help anyone, however much you try. (I find this line of reasoning helps with the "I should be doing more" type guilt.)

  2. pisica Says:
    February 20th, 2004 at 7:39 pm

    You obviously know how to allow other people some slack when they fail
    Yes, he does, and I for one appreciate it. When he and I were having issues about the way I handled money for joint expenses, he might have stomped around in a passive-aggressive snit and made my life miserable without ever explaining why. However, he understands that people sometimes make mistakes, for reasons which he may have no knowledge of, so he approached me directly, in a calm and rational manner, and explained why he was uncomfortable. I considered what he was saying, accepted that my actions were not respectful to him, and changed my behavior.
    It was far from the most enjoyable conversation I've ever had, but the fact that he treated me as a friend meant that I knew he felt this was an important issue that needed to be dealt with, but not one that he was taking personally. He wasn't writing me off as a Bad Person, nor was he using my behavior as an excuse to complain about other issues he had with me. He accepted that I had justifiable financial worries and that I simply was not aware of how my actions were being interpreted by others, and gave me the benefit of the doubt, assuming that I would behave maturely if I were treated maturely. I'm glad that we have now settled the problem and cleared it away, with not a single ill-feeling between us.
    I am sad that his self-awareness and his consideration for others doesn't always bring him the response he deserves. I've already taken steps to demonstrate my appreciate for the help he's given me and I intend to be conscious of how I respond to him in the future. I'm very happy to be his friend.

  3. nickys Says:
    February 20th, 2004 at 8:20 pm

    I'm not writing you off as a Bad Person either.

  4. FunkyPlaid Says:
    February 24th, 2004 at 1:41 am

    Your words and actions are kind, and I am as as happy as you.

  5. FunkyPlaid Says:
    February 24th, 2004 at 1:55 am

    If judgment (of myself and others) were the issue here, I'd be in deep shit. 🙂
    I think that *emapthy*, as you've identified, is more the problem. It's about me never putting myself first, which makes me feel guilty when I do, and brings up the question of if I'm actually taking care of what needs taking care of because of my natural deference to to others. I'm always the one to seek compromise, to consider outside input, and to look at my own actions. It's not that I don't know myself, but rather that I know myself too well.
    As well, "failure" doesn't really come into it, on either side. It's a question of priorities, and existing in a world where most people are focused on themselves, and me not being able to do the same, but needing desperately to do more of it than I am right now.

  6. nickys Says:
    February 24th, 2004 at 8:43 pm

    Yes, it's difficult when you're stuck in a loop where you feel your obligations to other people quite strongly and suffer guilt if you don't help them, but at the same time don't feel that you are getting a fair return on what you're putting in to relationships.
    I find that reminding myself that if I burn out then I won't be any help to them helps me to resist the wilder excesses of self-sacrifice.
    > It's not that I don't know myself, but rather that I know myself too well.
    I guess this is part of not judging yourself more harshly than you judge others.
    Deep down everyone has faults which are probably similar in level, or possibly even worse, than the ones you see in yourself. So, even though you may not see their faults clearly, you should know that they exist, and that therefore you are actually no worse than any of the people who you like and respect.

  7. nickys Says:
    February 29th, 2004 at 1:18 am

    By the way I found an online Empathy test at <a href="” target=”_blank”>

  8. podle Says:
    February 20th, 2004 at 12:27 pm

    Not only can I tell you that there are more like us – I'm now wondering if we are actually related.
    In the past few years I've lost not only my wife and former v. close friend (mind you, I'm happy where I am now in that regard) but also my best friend who I had known and loved since we were 16 – in exactly the scenario you describe. It just doesn't seem to work when I hit the wall and say, "I need." or express a desire to not be treated badly or cavalierly.
    I agree that you need time to think – but if I may offer some advice (pretty much unsolicited), you are what you are – bending yourself into a thousand different crazy straw shapes in order to ensure the love and regard of others is, well, crazy. I think that it is very easy to allow yourself to be devoured in this world by not being able to say no periodically. And I also think that there are times in life when logic does not serve you. I think that perhaps you are (as I am) dealing with issues of trust and fear. Sometimes it is imperative to take that big heart and use it for your own needs. Other people can and will take care of themselves, up to and including not allowing themselves to be burdened with whatever is going on with you. And as far as writing goes, I believe that we all write what we must. It is up to the reader to decide whether or not to engage in it or spend their time on it.
    Good lord, hope this doesn't sound too preachy. I saw a lot of my own feelings and things that I have been struggling with in what you wrote.
    And if you weren't so fricking far away and I didn't so barely know you I'd make you tea (with perhaps a little something in it).

  9. FunkyPlaid Says:
    February 24th, 2004 at 2:17 am

    If I'm posting my feelings in a public forum, then any advice that you caringly give is not only fair game and completely solicited, but greatly appreciated, as well. Thank you for hitting it so deftly on the head.
    I think that you've picked out two very important themes in this situation, being "trust and fear." As I've often said recently, a good deal of outward goodwill comes from inside insecurity. A good example of this is here (thanks for posting this, <lj user="buca">).
    It's a constant fight, as you know, between doing what feels good for short term happiness (putting others first and expending time and energy outwardly) and maintaining health, stability, and sanity in the long term (addressing our own issues first, regardless of outside concerns). But when you care so much about those you love, and when you love so easily, it becomes hard to mediate the incoming and the outgoing.
    Perhaps I'm too desirous of being remembered as unselfish, which in itself is a pretty selfish means to an end.
    Regardless of these things, your words are splendid, comforting, and I would, in fact, love some tea right about now. The flurries are just beginning to fall outside once again. 🙂

  10. podle Says:
    February 25th, 2004 at 1:22 am

    No pun intended (considering the weather here, which is blustery to the nth degree) – but take a rain check for the tea. Probably by the time you get back at the end of the year it will be damp all over again anyway.
    It occurs to me in reading this thread that one of the other hard things (in the trust and fear vein) is trusting other people to still love and care for you when you need to be a bit selfish. I mean, sure everyone loves you when you are walking around being a big ball of love and being willing to drop everything when they ask something of you. But will they still think you are a such a fine person when you have to turn them away for selfish reasons?
    The Dear Abby obvious answer is, of course they will and if they don't they aren't your friends. But life isn't that black and white. And its very difficult to stand in judgment of someone or try to make the decision as to whether or not to 86 them. As John can attest, these things keep me up at night.
    I think, also, in a world where people are so likely to be selfish in their pursuits (and in a world that so totally lacks community – but that's a whole other late night rant) people that are greatly caring and willing to express it can get cannibalized.
    I should stop – this could go on and on. Come have tea with John and me at the end of the year – we'll get out the good whiskey and have a nice ramble.

  11. FunkyPlaid Says:
    February 25th, 2004 at 9:19 pm

    Again, you couldn't be more right on. Life *isn't* that black and white. Each situation is different and how familiar are we with nobody else doing what they're "supposed" to do? 🙂
    I would like to think that friendships are forever (whether they were once Loves, or whatever), but I see how few people actually regard that as something to strive for, almost as if close friendships are simply products of a certain time…or perhaps a tool or a fancy to enhance their temporal experience.
    This scares me to death. I only ask for Forever–is that too much? Moreso, is that wrong considering that we are not stagnant beings, and that we are in constantly in flux, as are relationships and periods of life?
    And regarding another thing that you mentioned: a lack of community, on a large or a local level…dood, are we gonna have some good conversations when I come home. 🙂 That is one of my personal causes for Alarm and Tragedy(TM) in the past few years, and something I try to adjoin and cultivate wherever I can. I'd love to hear more on your thoughts in this regard.
    And I shout: "Let the cannibalism STOP!" You rock. And so does John. Please tell 'im I said so.

  12. kratkrat Says:
    February 20th, 2004 at 4:18 pm

    There are others like you, my friend. I say like you, because I am similar but not the same. I like to give my time and attention to others… but only those who I feel like to give their time, as well. (You may, therefore, recall my presence near a storage place with which you are familiar… [WINK]) Otherwise, I am okay with holding back and not offering up my time.
    I sadly cannot speak for others, for there are users and the simply oblivious who use others through ignorance or carelessness rather than selfishness. The best I can do is hope that, somehow, those who would take advantage of your wonderful nature steer clear of you, and that others recognize that you are tired, and do not heap their problems at your feet. Instead, I hope they turn things around, and say "Darren… what can I do for YOU. Perhaps that will be replenishing to your soul.
    And at the very least, remember there is a goofy-looking fat man across the pond who would be more than happy to listen to you and perhaps help with your thoughts/feelings/burdens. Oh, and that reminds me, do not forget… you're supposed to let me know when you are moving back across the pond. Gotta try to plan my (hopefully annual) California trip around your need to empty that locker!
    Be well, my friend.

  13. FunkyPlaid Says:
    February 24th, 2004 at 2:32 am

    Hiya, Big J.
    I agree that you and I are similar in that way, as we both "don't got time for the jibba-jabba," so to speak. I'm not an altruistic whore for just ANYBODY, man. 🙂
    As well, it is more a matter of emotional energy than physical, and I know we're on the same page here. You're right, if a handful of people I knew were willing to turn things around for a bit, it would certainly be soul-replenishing. But really, it's up to me to be the one to fill myself up, and to cut myself off when there's zero-gain coming back. That's where the empathy issues come in.
    I suspect that I'm actually dealing with a bunch of things masquerading as a single big one. It's just going to take some time to break down and eradicate, bit by bit. And that's the process of our growth, right? But I do know whom I can count on, and some do make themselves very visible, even from far across the ocean. Thanks so much.
    You're not a "goofy-looking fat man"; you're a warm-hearted gem, and my brother without a single doubt.

  14. agntprovocateur Says:
    February 20th, 2004 at 5:45 pm

    hey darren
    i will email you….

  15. lilitufire Says:
    February 20th, 2004 at 7:35 pm

    I can relate to this.
    I suffered from *serious* volunteer fatigue a couple of years ago. I made a long (very long) list of the commitments I'd made to people, and then looked at which ones I actually enjoyed (very very few of the ones on the list) I then ruthlessly eradicated the ones I didn't enjoy, over a period of a few months. I haven't volunteered for specific roles since, and feel much better for it.
    It's tough, I know. I too have a strong desire to fix things, but my anger at being taken for granted was removing any pleasure from helping to fix things.
    Honestly, the only person that can sort this is you. You have to work your priorities out, you have to learn to say no (just because you're intelligent and articlate doesn't mean you can't benefit from assertiveness training). One thought could be to allocate specific time (say a couple of evenings a week) to helping others, or, make sure you allocate specific time to yourself.
    Also, cut yourself some slack. Work out what you have to get done and what you want to get done, but doesn't have to be done right away, because these lists are often quite different.
    You are quite right to have needs, and to stand up for them. Working on this can change your life – I know it did mine 🙂
    *big hugs*
    Good luck.

  16. FunkyPlaid Says:
    February 24th, 2004 at 2:43 am

    What great support and understanding. Thanks so much for your words.
    I don't really think there's a tangible list that I could make of projects or people, as it's an overview and an outlook that I'm trying to mediate. I have no problems fulfilling my commitments to others, no matter how long the list…but my problem, I suppose, is establishing my own *internal* commitments and seeing them through. That's the crux of the matter, I fear.
    There's no way I could "ruthlessly eradicate" anything at all. That's my problem. Too much insecurity of being abandoned, and too much innate caring for others' feelings.
    But you're right that I'm the only person to be able to sort it out. And, as you said, to assert that we have needs, and to stand up for them, are important actions. Moreso, they're important responsibilities.

  17. seolta Says:
    February 20th, 2004 at 11:10 pm

    Sweetie, you are definately not alone…
    I remain silent when I need something in return, because I don’t want to burden anyone with my own needs …always and everytime this is what i do… my purpose is to help others and it brings me great joy to do it but when i am low or scared or in need, i don't ask. Sometimes because it's a certain day and i know X will be doing this regular thing and my worry is too trivial to bother them with. Or because i am walking on eggshells and dont want to put pressure on someone i care for. I end up making judgement calls on behalf of my friends before i even talk to them, which is insane and it is crippling me. (The party i threw recently was a huge step forward for me and i was awestruck that people came … and enjoyed!) I cannot bear the idea that my weaknesses and insecurities might change how someone i care for sees me or that making demands, criticisms or even just a disagreement might rob me of them. Logically i know that my bond with my friends goes beyond that, but emotionally is a different story sometimes… and i'd rather avoid the opportunity to be disappointed in people. Sometimes the hardest thing in the world is to let the people you love see you without good lighting.
    I still feel myself almost unworthy of the wonderful people i call friends and constantly surprised that they like me. And on the few recent occasions i have actually reached out rather than waiting for someone to notice i havent been able to even reach anyone, which only perpetuates the bottling up.
    I am realising in writing this that i too need to do some more thinking on this front. i know i have a very self sacrificial view on my personal relationships, but i havent really scrutinised the cause or cure.
    hmmm.. more thought required, damn. I tend to rely on being instinctive about my life… thinking can be most uncomfortable 🙂
    Anyway, i'm rambling and probably not making much sense but if you are like me i think there may always be a bit of an imbalance. I always feel that i give more in relationships, usually from the outset and i always put the other first. Probably not as healthy for me but i am quite proud of the fact i love and i like my generous nature, even if it does often lead to disappointment and sandpaper. We just have to hang on til we find the people that understand this about us well enough to bring solace…

  18. FunkyPlaid Says:
    February 24th, 2004 at 3:31 am

    You really hit this one dead on. You're clearly feeling the same way, and implicitly understand what I'm talking about, and what the "sandpaper" is made of.
    But there's just one more thing: doesn't it ever make you really angry and frustrated that you're not getting what you give from some of the people in your life? I mean, we're happy with our generous natures, and we're totally clear on the fact that some of this giving comes from insecurity, right? If one of our friends needed us, at any time, we'd be chomping at the bit to offer any assistance we could, with total focus and energy. Out of genuine caring. And perhaps just a bit of nebulous, intrinsic enjoyment of that recognition, in a pseudo-codependent manner. But very few people are always there for us, all the time, because they are taking care of themselves and their own lives. And depending on the person and the relationship between you, it can be extremely frustrating and lonely.
    So who are really the unhealthy ones here? Is it possible to care for your own issues and problems and still unconditionally be present for others when they need it? Why don't more people do it, then? Are the two mutually exclusive, or totally compatible? Are we expecting too much, or giving too much? Is it just a matter of the differences in outward regard for those around you…pure empathy, if you will?
    Do we practice empathy as a cultivated hobby (for our own enjoyment and for the beautiful end result), when this selfishness-promoting world gathers its troops on the other side of the field?
    I earnestly wish you all the best in coming up with these answers, and support you in your desire to be generous, both to yourself and to others, in the hopes that it is ultimately fulfilling and reciprocating. That's all we can really wish for, I think.

  19. seolta Says:
    February 26th, 2004 at 11:41 pm

    Yes it does make me angry and frustrated… often. But i guess i recognise that that is because of who I am and my needs, not theirs. My friends do love me and care for me, and who am i to dictate how they should show it.
    Is it possible to care for your own issues and problems and still unconditionally be present for others when they need it?
    YES – it has to be, because i never want to stop being there for those i love. I think that humanity without unconditional compassion and support would be … well, i wouldnt want to call myself human.
    I have just spent several hours in a long and emotional email exchange with a woman who is a close friend, and is one of the people i would go to the ends of the earth for and is also one of those i wish could give me more sometimes. I am warmed and honoured that she turned to me for support and pleased (and a little surprised) that my words have proven to be of some comfort for her.
    Her unhappiness has the same roots as this discussion. She feels that her partner is unable to give as much as she would want nor understand her need to be necessary. I counsel that compatability is never 100%, that flaws give us depth and beauty and that work is required to connect with someone… and i realise the same is true for us and that you are right – the difference is levels of empathy and awareness.
    I wont ever stop looking for those who understand me implicity and operate the same way, and i hope that i wont ever stop giving, whether reciprocated or not and for now the days are mostly good ones where i am happy with that 🙂
    Thank you btw, for raising this. I should buy you a pint sometime 🙂 It is good to know that there are other people who go through it too and to discuss it.
    I really enjoy your journal and i often find myself nodding along as i read. Loved the photos too… it's great to see someone else who loves the city as an entity, if you know what i mean.

  20. Anonymous Says:
    February 21st, 2004 at 2:37 am

    try it…
    you said:
    …because I can’t stand up for myself and say what I need, and what I think. Because it won’t matter, even if I did.
    if this is true, try it anyway – what have you to lose ?
    personally, i enjoy telling people to piss up a rope, but i think you knew that 🙂

  21. FunkyPlaid Says:
    February 24th, 2004 at 2:56 am

    Re: try it…
    Yes, and pissing up a rope can be fun–and challenging. 🙂
    I think I'm too soft to be able to do that with people whom I care for, though. It takes a lot for me to write someone off, and that's what makes our abilities in the matter different. I think I'm too afraid of closing a door, because Forever can be a very long time, and the negative feelings that come from that (guilt, loss) are potentially damaging, at least to me. As well, I'd rather resolve any issues than leave them lingering in the ozone. No matter how many people I have in my life, to lose any of them is extremely troubling for me. And that goes to show how my insecurity manifests. Of course it depends on how much I've invested in the person…
    In which case, rope-pissing is certainly a viable option. And you're right, there'd be nothing left to lose.

  22. aitkendrum Says:
    February 21st, 2004 at 3:22 am

    I wholeheardtly agree with many of things that have been said, you have to set time aside for yourself and stand up for your own feelings, desires and emotions. Too many times people will come to you because you have fixed things before or been an anchor for them and you become taken for granted.
    Strangely the reverse happened to me in that I focussed on my own self for a long time, moving away from the social groups that I had contact with for so long. As I drifted away from my friends they came to me less and less to fix issues or talk over things in their lives, I having the reasonable reputation of a good listener and giver of stable if cautious advice. My reasons were many, foremost I was trying to change my direction in life and restore some parts which had been long neglected.
    As I rejoiced in the benefits of that in came the tales of strife and bad tidings from those friends whom I had distanced from.
    Many had been through bad times and I was not there to be of help or support to them, and in one case bitter resentment was all too apparent in the air.
    While I have repaired some of those friendships and done what I could it still hurts when it gets mentioned in passing.
    I think it's all about striking a balance between you and them. Keeping the communications open while retaining a time for yourself and maybe where you can asking those friends to help you instead. It's hard to be tough to the people you know so intimately but sometimes there is no other way.

  23. FunkyPlaid Says:
    February 24th, 2004 at 4:34 am

    Re: Reversal
    That's terrible that you took time to get your life to where you wanted it, and again all your friends could focus on was themselves. YOU clearly failed in your duties as "court jester and solver of problems" and YOU shirked the responsibilities of being an ear at their every behest. 🙂
    Regardless, I'm glad that you took the time anyhow, and that you see how necessary it was for yourself. You're correct in that there's a balance somewhere within…the trick is establishing the weights on both end and walking the think line between them.

  24. scotis_man Says:
    February 21st, 2004 at 10:01 am

    You are not alone, in this, my friend. The stories I could tell about this subject, from my own life, and the lives of some others who are or have been close to me, would go on and on.
    You have taken what was the first step for me (and for some others) which is to be aware of the need for self, and that taking care of others does not lead to a happy end. I would never advocate stopping caring for others, but care for yourself first. (It is as simple and as confoundingly hard as that.) I finally found that by focusing on bringing myself to fulfillment as an individual, I had more to give to those around me. Also, I found that the truest friends were the ones who were still around as I got my head back above water.
    (Yet, I still get anxiety from the judgement of people whose oppinion I don't care about. Go figure.)

  25. FunkyPlaid Says:
    February 24th, 2004 at 8:02 pm

    Ah, the crux of the dichotomy.
    "Adjusting the levels," I think, is the most difficult part. And when caring for others is your natural state, it's hard to make yourself believe that it won't lead to a happy end, especially when it brings so much short-term pleasure. Of course I'm not really talking about physical caretaking, but moreso emotional empathy, and I know that you understand that.
    And yes, the anxiety still comes, no matter what, as a reminder of who you've always been, and where our greatest weakness lies.

  26. scotis_man Says:
    February 25th, 2004 at 5:39 am

    I do, indeed understand.
    (BTW – I count you among the friends that were there when I came back from my journey of self.)

  27. FunkyPlaid Says:
    February 25th, 2004 at 9:23 pm

    And what a nice, New Model it is, as well. 🙂

  28. lady_in_satin Says:
    February 23rd, 2004 at 3:31 am

    I do this all the time! I'm afraid you need to do exactly the opposite and STOP thinking!
    Whenever I think that you think that I am – that's just too much thinking. No, that's not thinking, that's spinning.
    I also erroniously believe that because I'm always sitting in 'your' head that you must also be in mine. Certainly you must know what I want and need. Then I'm shocked and crushed when I don't get what I want!
    It breaks my heart that no matter what I do or how I try, not everyone is going to love me every minute, all the time. It's all I ever wanted. Oh well!

  29. FunkyPlaid Says:
    February 24th, 2004 at 8:14 pm

    Stop Thinking?!
    I don't worry if people don't understand what I want and need. That doesn't bother me. It's more that they show a willingness to appreciate that I simply need. And a willingness to offer that energy back. This is not a sustained issue with everyone in my life, but moreso with a select number of important relationships that I've had, that continue to disappoint me because of their one-sidedness.
    One might suggest I just drop them, then…but my investment in and attachment to them renders that very difficult, and I have a habit of going off people's potential. That usually leads to disappointment. And really, I'm just not someone who can cut people out that were once very close. It scares me, and makes me feel like a bad person. It would take something extremely traumatizing for me to do that, and even then I still have reservations. Clearly letting go is a difficult thing to do.
    But, as you said, all we've ever wanted is to be loved every minute, and all the time. Is that too much to ask? Sometimes when my insecurity to this end controls my actions, I really question what I'm made of, which of course only exacerbates the problem.

  30. lady_in_satin Says:
    February 25th, 2004 at 1:02 am

    What I mean is that your friends are not mind readers. Sadly, they are not going to anticipate your needs. You tell them what you want/need and if they give it to you then great. If not, you decide if that's OK with you or not.
    My mom used to say,(read this with a Brooklyn accent) "Honey, sometimes you have to ask yourself if the fucking you're getting is worth the fucking you're getting."
    Of course, this doesn't only apply to sexual relationships. It's more about things being recipricated. I think she was asking, "Are you getting out what you're putting in?" Sometimes the returns are not in kind, so it's hard to measure.
    Anyway, I miss your face.

  31. FunkyPlaid Says:
    February 25th, 2004 at 9:26 pm

    Right, the "Bullshit to Pleasure Ratio". I hear ya.
    Brooklyn accent and all. 🙂
    It will be very nice to see you again, and fairly soon. The new "Inbody" track is marvelous, by the bye.

  32. tisme Says:
    December 6th, 2004 at 11:44 am

    Hi Darren
    I know this post is old, but I found it through <lj user="nickys">, whilst reading some old stuff of hers, and I really liked it, and hope you don't mind me commenting.
    I could have written this post myself, and whilst thinking about what/how to comment, came to the conclusion that most of the things I could say would just be a re-hash of your own words. I do know what you mean, I've found it incredibly hard myself to say 'No' or to even express my discomfort with other people, to be remotely assertive. For me, what I eventually worked out it was was a deep fear of being alone at the end of the day; that no-one would like me, and I would have be left sitting at the end of the world with no-one around. This led to me wanting to please people, which eventually became such a habit I didn't even realise I was doing it, but just ended up with me being almost incapable (and becoming physically uncomfortable) or being remotely confrontational.
    I started coming back from it with little things. Just saying quietly 'I think I'd rather do this' on occasion, for example. Eventually, as these things do, the saying worked it's way back to my thinking, and I began to say it a little louder, and a little more convincingly. Until it has now got to the point where I can stop and accurately think 'But what do _I_ want?' (I didn't know for the longest time, being so caught up in just doing whatever made the other person happy/able to like me. It used to infuriate my friends when they'd ask me what I wanted to do of a night. Erin's typical response: 'Well I really don't mind, what would _you_ like to do?) and am much more able to voice that. I still have problems with saying 'This thing you do/say/are causes me distress and I would like to deal with that', but the more you do it, the easier it becomes. One of these days my hands won't even shake any more when I say to someone 'I'm a little, um, angry, with how you treated me, um, the other day.'
    Is it ok if I add you as a friend? I like your writing, and you, from what I have gleaned. Congratulations on your new apartment also, it really does look rather amazing. Ah, to be back in the States…

  33. tisme Says:
    December 6th, 2004 at 11:46 am

    Grrr. That should be '_at_ being remotely confrontational'

  34. FunkyPlaid Says:
    December 15th, 2004 at 5:25 pm

    Ah, to sit at the End of the World, all alone. What a perfectly poignant description of that feeling. I'm comforted by the fact that not only do you understand, but that you sometimes experience it yourself, and have made some movement toward recovery. This heartens me, and makes me want to set a comfortable seat at the Edge when and if you should ever arrive again, even just for a wee visit.
    I hear the view is splendid, but devoid of detail or happenstance.
    I want to apologize to you for taking so damned long to respond to this very insightful and kind post. Of course you may add me to your Friends list, and I have already done the inverse. Your congratulations on the new abode are taken graciously, and if you're ever back in these parts, of course you are welcome to drop by. Did we ever happen to briefly meet down some misty alley in ol' Edina?
    Regardless, Erin, I'm pleased to have found a kindred spirit, and I thank you for your words of wisdom, and also for delving into the annals of this journal. I look forward to knowing more about you in the near future.

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