In what ways do I protect myself from being hurt? Do those strategies help or hinder my search for connection?
I tend to wall a lot of myself off early on in a relationship, trying to protect my most vulnerable squishy bits from pain if something goes wrong. It’s a silly strategy, because I consciously know that even if I do that, if something goes wrong I will still hurt. I am trying to undo this damage, trying to undo this strategy.
I will mirror other people’s behavior around communication, even if it isn’t my preferred behavior and may even cause me emotional pain to do so. This bites me in the butt big time. It is hard for me to be the one who talks the most in a relationship because the lack of reciprocity feels like a lack of affection sometimes. Words of Affirmation is my second highest love language and the affirmation that I am worth talking to comes with conversation. So I try to find my affirmation elsewhere (that’s really hard) and try to convince myself that the lack of conversation is not evidence that a person doesn’t find me interesting or worthy of affection. I can understand this one on a certain level, because, as weird as it sounds, Words of Affirmation can be one of the harder love languages for me to give – I can’t often tell what would help people in the moment and often my honesty goes a bit off of the message I’m trying to convey.
The first two definitely do hinder my search for connection – if I am not genuinely me, then how can people connect with the genuine me?
I seek to have my own inner stability, an inner rock I can lean on if things go to shit. I’ve built enough of one that I can process a lot of things, but I realized along the way that I am not the only person who can build my rock. So I ask others for what I need or for suggestions and I go to therapy, to help find tools to build it. And I found out that I do not have to do this alone, but I am stronger on my own than I give myself credit for most days.
I am working to reach out to others when I need help. And damn, this is hard. I pride myself on being able to take care of myself and take care of my own needs, but I’ve been realizing more and more lately that I can’t do all of that by myself. And that asking for help is not dependency, that it does not break my self-sufficiency to reach out when I am struggling. We form relationships because we seek to connect, we see something in the other that we jive with on a deeper level and there is nothing wrong with letting someone in to that deeper level. Heck, we might even find more to connect about, strengthening the relationship.