Fear of Vulnerability and Trust


I am capable of forming relationships; I’m not a sociopath. I want strong bonds. There are a few people in my life who I would die for and who I do not think could ever be replaced. I like people, but they scare the hell out of me. I’m not shy because I am arrogant, aloof, or unfeeling. The opposite it true. I feel too much, too strongly, too often. I resist letting people in because the more I let them in, the more they can hurt me.

It sucks because I want the bond everyone dreams of: The 60 year marriage, where the couple enjoys each other’s company, stands together through the storms of life, and takes care of each other to the end. Yet, I’m terrified of letting anyone in because that gives them true control.

incaoable2

The illusion of control seen in SSC (Safe, Sane, Consensual) BDSM scenes may appear scary, abusive, or coercive from the outside, but using RACK (Risk Aware Consensual Kink)/SCC guidelines the submissive is the one with the real control. She says the word and everything stops.

Emotional vulnerability is infinitely more terrifying. When you let someone know your deepest emotional pain or fears and they do the same, that person leaves an indelible mark on your heart. No matter how much time or distance separates you, a special bond remains. It is almost as if you gave part of yourself to them.

So, armed with this emotional bond and secrets, they can twist a knife in your soul. They can hurt you more than any blade, brand, or whip ever could. It may not even be intentional! I still remember the day my best friend from PHP discharged. I cried, as in hyperventilating sobs… I did not cry when I left treatment or when anyone else before or after left any of my higher levels of care. This was a girl who knew what it was like inside my mind. She knew and she still liked me. She saw greatness where I only saw mediocrity. She knew things I’d told no other human being and vice versa.

Haha, we were in the art room, sitting next to each other after one of the last groups of the day and I don’t know when it happened, but we both started crying. When it was time for dinner a nurse came into the room, saw tears running down my face and asked, “Is it about the lasagna?” I laughed through my tears and explained I was crying because my best friend was leaving that night. Staff were nice, we had name cards and they set them out before dinner at four tables. Therefore, you never got to chose who you sat with. We got to sit next to each other that night. Plus, our favorite nurse was the table monitor. I don’t remember what I ate or didn’t eat, but I do remember my friend was too upset to finish her meal, which worried everyone because not finishing your last meal before discharge is a bad sign. I’m awful at keeping up with anyone from anytime in my life, even family! If I don’t live in the same house with you, it is unlikely I will reach out on a regular basis. I feel bad about it. I think about various friends often, but somehow I never get around to writing a letter. I still send a message to her occasionally and we chat like old times, but then inevitably, I get sucked away and into some life crisis like a major depression relapse or law school exams and suddenly months have flown by. I’m going to go write her a note as soon as I finish this post.

Anyway, her therapist wrote a long letter in my goodbye book. They had a tradition of giving each patient a copy of “Oh the Places You’ll Go” with encouraging handwritten notes from staff, therapists, and other patients. Her therapist’s note took an entire page of that book! He said I helped her open up. That made me happy.

However, I still remember crying and thinking (maybe I even said it in therapy later?) while I did not regret our relationship, getting that close to anyone else in treatment and losing them again was not worth the pain.

At the time, there were only 3 teenagers in the program. The other 16+ were adults. A nurse always waited with us until our parents came to pick us up after dinner. I was still crying and my mom couldn’t understand why it mattered so much. Obviously, we were friends, but she didn’t understand how I could become so incredibly close to someone I’d known only a month. She didn’t understand what spending 10 hours/day in the same room with someone, talking about things you never said out loud before, and sharing similar thought patterns can do for a friendship.

Granted some of those thought patterns and fears were part of the disease, but I think they leave behind traces even after recovery. In my experience, eating disorders affect people with similar personalities. I don’t know if ED makes us that way or we all already had the same thoughts in our heads. I imagine it is a little of both. Nonetheless, even those who recover usually remain compassionate, intuitive, quiet, unassuming, and kind. It is almost scary how thoughts from so many people from treatment could easily come from my mind!

…Not everyone is like that…Oh drama created by malnourished, angry, terrified teenagers. Haha, actually, from the adults to…

Argh, sorry long tangent!

The point of telling the story of my friend from treatment is getting close to people yields great rewards, but at great personal risk! If I knew I would end up with the relationship I want, I would be willing to crash and burn a few times, but no matter how many people I date, I cannot guarantee I’ll find that lifelong bond.

On one side, vulnerability leads to stronger bonds. For example, I feel closer to my brother and sister-in-law than I’ve ever felt. On the other side, the fall is bone crushing.

I don’t feel lonely right now. I have friends, I have people I could go out to a movie with tonight if I wanted to. I have family. I have potential significant others. I’m afraid of winding up alone because people move on, move away, lost touch, or die. Yet, for the moment, the fear of loss and vulnerability outweighs the fear of loneliness and the loss of never feeling romantic love.

Interesting pictures I found while search for quotes:

and finally, ouch!

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