15 January 2010


In therapy this week we discussed overthinking. I think too much: I knew that already. The therapist was concerned by how much of my thinking was self-critical, but I was and am just concerned that I think all the time. Even during experiences that should be purely emotional and purely enjoyable, like dancing, I'm thinking away. So after we had our session I resolved to think less, to try just to experience things rather than thinking about them while I'm doing them (sine that kind of sucks the enjoyment out of them). (funnily, yesterday somebody who was neither the therapist nor me said to me, "You think too much!" I just laughed.)

Anyway, before I give up thinking too much, I wanted to post about something that I've thought on and off for several months. Intermittently but repeatedly for, say, the last nine months, I've
wondered whether I was always this way: so convinced of my own unattractiveness, so desolate about romantic possibilities, so deeply and abidingly certain that there is something terribly wrong with me. And when I've wondered that, I've also wondered if Mr. Fallen did something terrible to me, if he did me some truly lasting harm.

You see, this is what I think happened. I think I broke up with Dr. Higher, and then I lived in Otherhome. I briefly thought I might go out with someone else there, but that person turned out to be a terribly bad bet, and in Otherhome there wasn't anyone else; it just became clear to me that I wasn't going to meet anyone else. And then I met Mr. Fallen. And he seemed so right: it seemed he shared my interests; he shared my cultural references; he shared my sense of humour. And he was so nice! In comparison to Dr. Higher, he was unbelievably nice and thoughtful. And I couldn't believe my luck. I just couldn't believe that I would meet someone like that - that I would ever meet them, never mind that they would want me. And then, of course, it turned out he didn't. And I think that just made it clear to me that I was right: that no one like that would ever want me, even if they did appear again.

But it can't be that I just believed that out of nowhere. Surely, surely, I must have secretly believed all that before? I mean, Mr. Fallen can't have made me feel worthwhile so effectively that when he left I felt completely unworthwhile. It seems more logical that I always felt worthless, and just for six months I thought it might all work out, and then what happened proved to me that it wouldn't. I remember saying to my friend M. after I saw Mr. Fallen at the conference, "I always believed that I was second-best. I always believed that no one would ever pick me if they had a choice. And he proved it." I'm inclined to believe that that's the correct reading of what happened. I feared that the fact that I'd not had a lot of relationships, and that I now (then) lived somewhere where there's nobody to meet, and that I was older than most people I knew there, meant both that I was unattractive and that I was doomed never to meet anyone. Then this attractive person came along and appeared to prove me wrong, and I was happy and relieved as you are when your seemingly plausible fears are proved implausible. Thus, when they were proved plausible again, it seemed that they really must be true.

So I can't blame Mr. Fallen, and I don't. But I do sometimes stand there in my head and marvel at the fact that one event could precipitate such total destruction. I had a therapist once who said, "Sometimes you give a little tap, and the whole wall falls down"; that's what happened here. It wasn't the cause of my ruin, but it was the conduit to it.

Still, I suppose you could say that if it weren't for that I never would have faced all these terrible feelings about myself and be dealing with them.

See how I did that? I turned potentially gloomy thinking into a source of enjoyment.

1 comment:

Rosasharn said...

You know what--I was just having a very similar conversation in therapy. Only instead of being about a man and a relationship ending, it was about a field exam. You can fill in the rest for yourself, I'm sure, but basically the same line of reasoning: If, after all my hard work, this went so badly, then I must have been mistaken about myself, about my abilities, about my vocation, about my value, about my place in the world. The work, it seems to me, is to build a stronger wall, one that no tap, no tap tap tap, can knock down. All love.