Many of you who read Baggage Reclaim have felt this ‘love’ or ‘connection’ with someone that appears to persist in spite of compelling information and experience of them that communicates that you’d be better off distancing yourself or severing ties. You instead feel perplexed by the very existence of the love or connection or feel compelled to act upon it and try to ‘make something’ out of it. I’ve had various connections and what I thought at the time were ‘love’ which when I changed how I felt about me and my habits, these ceased to mean anything, and yet, it was only recently that I realised that there is one still there… with my father.
I know that I’m not alone in experiencing conflicting feelings about someone who it feels like we ‘should’ have more decisive feelings for. It feels like it should be cut and dried and yet, it might not be, or it is cut and dried but some feelings still remain, even if it’s hurt.
During a session with my kinesiologist where I explained to her how my father and I haven’t spoken since a few days after the wedding and how we’d had a series of awful run-in’s in the month before that (I asked my stepfather who raised me from when I was 6 to walk me down the aisle and then my father and his family all kicked off and I ended up with both walking me), she said that even if we never meet our parents, there is often an unconditional love that’s there and formed as a baby that can run counter to everything we know and experience.
I have no regrets about them both walking me down the aisle as I made a wholehearted decision (with my back against the wall…) as ultimately I was caught between a rock and a hard place – the alternative would have cast a very dark shadow over the day. As it was, in spite of everything that had gone on, we had an amazing day and many guests described it as “the best wedding ever” – yay!
The downside of what happened though is that it seems to have resurrected some ‘old sh*t’ which after a hectic summer having lots of fun, it has refused to stay ‘stuffed down’ and I’m now having to face it all. You know me – it shows up in me physically and I’ve been dealing with jaw pain which apparently is a build up of very old tensions.
I also understand why it resurrected ‘old sh*t’ – because I experienced a great deal of hurt and made some very painful realisations in that month. It’s almost like making these realisations has me needing to ‘refold’ and ‘reorganise’ some old hurts.
I’m realigning what I’ve learned these past few months with him and his family and having to make some ‘corrections’ in my life – boundaries.
I think what really ‘knocked’ me about this experience is that realisation that you’ve forgiven someone, given out chances and then realising that they don’t really ‘get it’ and in fact, when you’ve thought that they were sorry and regretful, they sort of were, but they weren’t, or at least not in any way that truly got reflected into their subsequent actions.
This is the same thing that upsets many people – realising that you’ve made an effort to get past things, to make peace, to let there be a chance, and then the first time you put a foot wrong or you get into a conversation about the past, it becomes evident that you’re on two totally different wavelengths or possibly even different planets.
It hurts to realise that you’re alone with your realisations and they just don’t give a beep.
But then, I’m thankful that my forgiveness was never dependent on him ‘getting it’. What my continued involvement is dependent on though, is a lack of bullshit and that’s where we’ve fallen out – because I won’t pretend that the past isn’t what it was and I don’t do the whole keeping up appearances BS.
This got me thinking about, why do we feel a connection with someone who isn’t or hasn’t been around, or who has dipped in and out?
It’s understandable why as children we have unconditional love for our parents but what tends to happen when we do this particularly in romantic relationships, is that we love ourselves conditionally while loving the other person without limits, which isn’t actually unconditional love; it’s loving without self-esteem and boundaries.
Unconditional love of you is about not making how you feel about you reliant on external factors, with how you feel about you remaining consistent. Hence now even when things don’t go as I like, how I feel about me doesn’t change whereas before, I’d screw up and really give myself a hard time and withhold affection from me.
As we move into adulthood and mature in our outlook and emotionally, through our experiences we get to figure out what our own values and boundaries are and if we’re developing a good relationship with ourselves, we also get to understand which relationships we should stick with and those that we should back away from irrespective of feelings and connection because they may threaten our ability to treat ourselves we love, care, trust, and respect.
Of course this isn’t going to happen if a lot of your identity is based on your experience, for instance, of being parented by someone who was emotionally and/or physically absent and/or you’re living in the past.
So I’m sitting there, reading people’s comments and with thoughts jumping around in my mind and it comes to me, “We don’t know these people.” We.don’t.know.these.people.
Yes sometimes we do, but the people I see struggle to let go of a connection the most, are those who the connection is something that’s ‘there’ without a wealth of positive experiences to back it up. It just ‘is’ and we never question it and where it comes from – we might just fanny away a lifetime though trying to get them to live up to the connection or trying to get others to fill the void.
I don’t know him. Just because we have a ‘connection’ doesn’t mean that it has to keep meaning something big. I’ve got better things to do with my time than to keep chasing pavements.
My memories are of playing with Sticklebricks while sitting in his lap when I was about 2, being collected for visits, and waiting around a lot for him to show up or to finish hanging out with his mates. From about 6/7 onwards there’s a ‘gap’. I’ve had a relationship with him for ten years now and I suddenly realised – I don’t know a great deal about him. I just went back into his life and we mostly carried on as if he hadn’t flaked out on us for most of our lives. In fact, I don’t know a great deal about most of his family – it’s all old memories.
It’s living in the past.
It reminds me of when I’d have these ambiguous relationships where we’d meet up after weeks or months of not seeing each other and not mention the big white elephant in the room. It’s being scared of scaring them off or being scared of what you might hear.
Letting go / breaking up is hard to do but when you keep chasing this ‘connection’ you think that you have or this ‘love’, it takes you away from doing better by you. I’ll choose me every time over someone who my involvement would cause me to change how I feel about me.
The ‘connection’ only has the meaning that you assign to it. If your meanings have to have actions, words, consistent experiences etc to back it up, a ‘connection’ or even a feeling of love for someone where these things aren’t happening can’t mean too much.
I have to face my hurt because my cupboard of ‘old shit’ is full so I’ll tidy up, refold, clear what I can and keep enjoying my life and being me. You learn to live with this kind of disappointment – I’ve been doing it for most of my life. I used to live with it badly, I now live with it well (except for the past two weeks).
I cannot wish for what wasn’t. I can only appreciate what is, and this has a lot more value for me than anything I may think I’ve missed out on. I hope that you can do the same.