If there weren’t enough clues in the past seven months regarding what the trouble with me is, then the clues are certainly all there today. I went to my sponsor’s flat early this morning as usual to carry on with step 5. This week we covered my resentments towards myself, all of which mainly concern the huge disappointment in my appearance that I’ve suffered over the years. I talked about not liking my dry skin, my greasy, wavy hair, my skinny, lanky frame and my big nose. Those feelings, though certainly not as intense these days, are still definitely there. I couldn’t laugh at any of these resentments as I talked about them today. I am so vain, and prideful about my appearance, it’s still rare for me to go out without spending some time in front of the mirror first. I can’t bear to go out the door without nice hair and clear skin. Those feelings obviously came from my school days, when my appearance was picked on by classmates every single day. People bullied me for being skinny, spotty, greasy, geeky. Appearance was so important at school, as I think it is in society at large. Of course we all worry about how we look, but what my sponsors wants to impress upon me is that I look fine as I am. Sometimes I can believe that, most of the time I can’t. I’ve only just become aware of the extent of my obsession with looks – it’s just one of those things that will take a lot of time and work.
After our meeting was over I decided to repeat the long walk that I went on last Saturday around London. I had so much fun last weekend, I thought it would be nice to see if history could repeat itself, since I had nothing else to do today. I retraced my exact steps, whilst listening to some very good music by my favourite band the Beatles on my mp3 player, in the hope that I’d feel those feelings again; the nice, warm feeling of being happy. It was a nice early spring day, and the royal parks looked more beautiful than ever, but it wasn’t quite as fun as last weekend. I think I know now that I can’t engineer a feeling – not simply by retracing my steps on a random walkabout, anyway.
In the evening I went to the meeting in west London as usual. The chair was given by someone whose face I know well from the gay meetings, but whom I’ve never spoken to before. Because of this I was unexpectedly nervous. I still find it difficult being around certain people. For some reason, people who don’t talk to me bother me more than people who do. It’s not that we’ve deliberately ignored each other for seven months, it’s simply that we haven’t had the chance to connect yet. In my head, my illness still thinks that this person must dislike me, when in reality I know he can’t. How can anyone dislike me if they haven’t spoken to me before? It’s crazy, but my illness still wants to believe it.
So I was sure I wouldn’t be able to share tonight, though I knew I would have to. I had plans for after the meeting which were making me very anxious. In the week I had crazily decided to get back in touch with an old flame, someone I hadn’t seen for two years, suggesting that we meet for dinner tonight. It’s a long story, but basically, he lives in the area of the meeting and I caught myself thinking about him romantically last week when I was around there. I was the one who broke it off with him two years ago, and I knew he’d want to see me again, because we’ve had sporadic e-mail contact over the years which has suggested this to be the case. Last week my romantic instinct decided to kick in again, and I wanted to see my ex again, thinking perhaps things could work out after all, after so much intervening time and change.
As soon as I sent him the e-mail the other day I knew what it was really about: I still want to be rescued by a man. I’m still looking for that father figure, and he fills that role perfectly. He’s several years older than me, and a lot richer. It was undeniably part of what attracted me to him two years ago. Unfortunately, during the whole time we were going out I couldn’t stop looking at other men, and it tore me apart all along, because I knew I was with this man for the wrong reasons. I wasn’t sexually attracted to him, I just wanted someone to take care of me, and I was hugely co-dependent. So why have I decided to get back in touch with him?! I know what this behaviour is about, yet here I am, still doing it!
I was so anxious about this during the meeting I knew instinctively that I had to share about it, to get it off my chest because things would get better no other way. In the end, I fought against what I thought was potential humiliation and fessed up about my situation. As I was talking about it I blushed and sweated. The meeting’s chair had been about alcoholism, and there was me talking about my problematic sex life. How embarrassing! Who wants to talk about their sex life in public anyway?
The reason I went ahead and shared about it is because I had no idea what to do about the situation and I needed help. After the meeting, people gathered around me to give advice, which was nice, but it only served to embarrass me more! I hated being the centre of attention, taking the focus away from the newcomers in the meeting. In the end, I went to dinner with my ex, H, and we had quite a good time. We get on better now that I don’t drink, a great surprise. Afterwards he wanted me to come back to his flat, and my suspicions were confirmed that he expected things to continue between us as they were before. He does want us to get back together as a couple. This is painful for me to realise, because I now have absolutely no idea how I feel about him.
Going out with H was mostly very nice because he could afford to take me to expensive restaurants and nice holiday destinations. When we broke up, I was strongly aware that my attraction to him had a lot to do with the money, and that made me feel undignified. Like a prostitute, almost. Today, the money is still very attractive, but I HAVE to put it out of my mind, because I need to make a decision about where I want to go from here. And it HAS to be a decision that I can stick to this time. I can’t decide to see him again and then five minutes later change my mind. It wouldn’t be fair on him for me to keep blowing hot and cold, like I do with a lot of men.
Forgetting about the money, what else do I like about him? Well, he’s a very interesting and intelligent guy, and he likes the same kind of music as me, which seems important. He’s a lovely person, he really is, and a lot of people would be lucky to have him. On a superficial level, he isn’t physically attractive to me, any more. Is that important to me? This is where my problem lies. I know if I was to start going out with him again I’d ALWAYS be looking at other guys. I did it all the time when we were going out, and it was very painful for me to be in that situation.
Am I just a really shallow person? Are looks really THAT important in a relationship? People say they’re not, but if we all just went on personality instead of looks then how would we ever be able to choose one person out of all the lovely people we meet in our lives?
Repeating old patterns would be such a dangerous thing for me to do now, so I really don’t want to go back to feeling like a prostitute. Is that my decision, then? As soon as I think about NOT getting back into this relationship with H, disappointment fills me, perhaps because of all the nice holidays I’ll never get to go on, or maybe because deep down I really DO like him after all. Maybe running away from this relationship would be me sabotaging my chances of long term happiness. I’ve certainly sabotaged my chances in other areas of life, such as friendships and work.