Solo Dolo

I'm an only child.

Now, I have a few...issues... around this fact and how I'm perceived because of it. Namely people think I'm selfish and incapable of working with others or sharing. That's actually completely wrong. I'm excellent in group situations -- always able to see other's strengths, hear all the voices and draw a consensus, and get in where I fit in. And further, my mother has 13 brothers and sisters and is the WORST at sharing, meanwhile I share freely... too freely.

One thing I don't share too freely, though, is me. It's terrible and I need to work on it. One thing I'm noticing lately, though, is how I get triggered to hold back when I start to feel like somebody wants too much of me.

Trigger -- an interesting word. In this counseling profession I'm entering, "triggers" are usually references to things that make a person go back to a "bad place." Like veterans who may hear a car backfire and duck. Or women who have been raped who respond negatively to individuals who remind them of their rapist somehow. These things are triggers and when you're counseling someone who's had a traumatic experience you want to help them identify triggers because a lot of times people don't recognize them or the damage they can do in their life.

One thing I hated was how I felt like J took all my time as his own. When he called he expected me to answer, often expected me to be all alone and able to give him all of my attention. In fact, if he did call and I was with people, he had no problem losing his mind on me or being upset with me for being with people. On the flip side, though, that wasn't a returned situation. In other words, he didn't always pick up when I called (or bother to call back) and if he was with his friends, he fully expected me to let him be with them. It was one of the ways he tried to control me. He was successful in some ways -- I worried that if I didn't pick up, I'd have to deal with his anger later and that, worse, he wouldn't pick up later when I did call (as punishment, I felt).

Now I have triggers around this. People who call me too frequently or people who call me too infrequently set off triggers and I start to think crazy things. For awhile I attributed it to my only childness. That is, I appreciate my alone time. I revel in it, actually. One of the reasons I've always said my BFF and I get along so well is that we're both only children and we really are ok with the other one needing space (this mattered when we lived together for 5 months). I couldn't wait to move from DC so I could finally live on my own and be myself when I wanted to. When I think about being in a serious relationship, I anticipate the conversation I'll need to have with him about how I like to be by myself sometimes and how he'll need to respect that. Don't even get me started on marriage -- just recently someone I follow tweeted something in regards to marriage about being prepared to wake up next to someone and wish they weren't there this morning or, walking into the house disappointed that they're there because you had hoped to have a few moments alone. Both things I've thought about for myself...

So it was very easy for me to add my anxiety around frequency of telephone communication to this growing list of things I need/dislike because I grew up an only child. But then I got to thinking about it... See, it wasn't like I could just ignore the call or call them myself -- I had anxiety around it. I see a person's name on my caller ID for the 3rd time this week and I'm thinking "oh goodness. What now? What will they ask of me that I don't want to do?" and even if I ignore the call, I'm still wondering what it was they needed and thinking of when I will call them back, which is usually quickly so I can quit thinking about it, only to find they just called to talk and then I get irritated because I didn't want to be on the phone. Or if it's a friend I haven't spoken to in a while -- I've called, they've not answered or called back -- I begin wondering if they just don't care. If I've become disposable to them in the way I feel disposable to others. And for both these cases, in the back of my mind, I wonder if they're trying to control me. Is this person calling me again to force me to pick up? Is this person not picking up to remind me of my place? No. Seriously. This happens in my mind.

And actually, as I write this, I'm becoming aware of some other situations that this is a trigger for (namely that "disposable" bit) but the big one that I've been aware of is the control bit. Not sure where to move from this. I should probably bring this up at my counseling appointment on Tuesday, but I doubt he'll do too much to make me explore this and more importantly what to do about it (um, my counseling situation is interesting and I need to blog about it).

Anyway, I would encourage you to think about triggers you have and how they might be attributed to something they're not at all related to... might give you some perspective. :)

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