We’ve all been there: “So and so’s acting strange or not talking to me. Did I do something?”
In any kind of relationship, as human beings, it’s natural to be concerned about changes in behaviors and patterns – that’s how we understand if something’s dysfunctional. And of course, because most animated organisms are empathetic to each other, we try to recognize if there’s something we can do to make what’s wrong right again, so we first look to ourselves. Usually, if we can see what we’ve done or said that may have caused a disturbance in the Force, we can fix it or at least make an attempt. Most of us would try to communicate about the problem.
The problem is, not everyone knows how or wants to communicate.
So, when people don’t communicate, it leaves the other guessing. And when people start to guess, their imaginations get crazy and they can’t sleep, they can’t think, or focus on anything but why someone’s not talking to us or why they got stood up and after all the scenarios of anything they could’ve possibly done to make the other person pull away, after hours of agonizing, we finally conclude, “They’re assholes.”
What if that asshole stood you up because they were in a car accident?
What if that asshole hasn’t talked to you because they just lost their job or a loved one?
What if that asshole didn’t get in touch with you because they’re unwell?
Guess what? It’s not always about you.
An illustration generally based on a true session (or two):
Client: “My boyfriend hasn’t talked to me in a few days. Does he still love me?”
Me: *laying down the cards* “Your boyfriend’s going through some serious family issues –”
Client: “Yeah, his dad’s dying.”
Me: “Well, everything indicates that his lack of communication with you isn’t personal towards you and that there are no problems with the relationship. It’s just that he’s processing his feelings –”
Client: “But, does he still love me?”
Me: “Well, yes.”
Client: “Then why won’t he talk to me?”
Me: *pause* “Because he’s going through a very difficult time in his life. And I can also see that he could use a friend right now –”
Client: “Well, if he doesn’t want to talk to me, then why should I talk to him?”
Me: “Because he’s hurting –”
Client: “But, why?! What did I do? Oh my god, is he mad at me?!”
Things that make you go, “Wow,” right?
I understand that we all have needs. Yes, we all have expectations, but above anything else, we’re all human.
In this particular case and those which were very similar, I truly feel for the other person. So many times have I had a session with a client who is (understandably) concerned that their loved one is pulling away only to find that the reason had nothing to do with the client and yet the client simply could not see past the end of their egos.
When we truly love someone, we care about their well being. We want them to be happy. What’s important to them becomes important to us and we want to be part of their lives in a constructive, compassionate capacity, just as we would hope they would be for us.
Long ago, I had a client that asked why her husband hasn’t given her attention. It turned out he was dying of cancer in a hospital! Her reply was, “Well, that’s no excuse. There’s a phone in his room, right? He could call if he wanted to.”
“Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance and a deep need for admiration. Those with narcissistic personality disorder believe that they’re superior to others and have little regard for other people’s feelings. But behind this mask of ultra-confidence lies a fragile self-esteem, vulnerable to the slightest criticism.” http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/narcissistic-personality-disorder/DS00652
It’s very hard to love ourselves and feel secure in the western civilization. Now, in this day and age when there’s so much connectivity with other people, cultures, and lifestyles, as communal animals, we can’t help but start comparing ourselves; “She’s skinnier than me,” “He has a better car,” “They seem so happy,” and so forth. This constant comparing, along with the “Fear and Consume” culture that pressures us everywhere in the media (as Marilyn Manson puts it which describes the “buy this or you won’t have that” mentality), puts such a toll on our sense of self that we lose sight that it’s all really just noise.
Does a tree ask if it’s pretty enough? Does a bird question how it sings or the snail go, “Shit, that other shell is bigger than mine! That’s a hot-ass shell, man!”
But, noise or not, when we’re not feeling important enough, pretty enough, strong enough, and we’re spending more time thinking about what other people have rather than on what we have, we become needy. And when we become needy, we don’t think about the other person as an actual person with their own feelings and dreams and problems, but a mere vessel that satiates our needs, therefore, we cling.
Some people call this clinginess a symptom of good ol’ fashioned insecurity, which is essentially fear of loss, abandonment issues. However, others would call it Codependency: “a psychological condition or a relationship in which a person is controlled or manipulated by another who is affected with a pathological condition (as an addiction to alcohol or heroin); broadly: dependence on the needs of or control by another.” http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/codependency
More often than not, that “another” is a person and that is an awful lot of control of your life you’re giving to someone else.
And that has everything to do with you.