The REAL! conversation was unplanned, and un rehearsed, so odd for me. It just happened. Started because of his fish tank…
Hubby loves his fish tank, NEEDS his fish tank. He’s had salt water fish and corals since he was in high school and he has this huge attachment to them. The tank has looked like crapola for many years now, as he has not had time/money to keep up with it. It has gone through cycles of every color of algae and slime covering everything in sinister looking ways, looking more swampy/deathy than lovely. He’s been working on cleaning it up, found an issue with the water filter, lights are old, pumps are old.
We’ve been discussing selling our house. Practical me asked him “Is there any way to simplify this tank setup so it is easier to maintain and will look beautiful when we show our house to buyers?” He responded with the usual anger and why am I attacking him and his tank. This tank has been a point of contention for over, well, ok forever. I never understood it and I still don’t. His NEED for it. We had that tank when we could not afford it. I used to resent the cost of electricity, water and upkeep supplies. We can technically afford it now – if I keep being able to work. I’m already worried about our reduced income with my reduced hours and going in to planning mode.And thinking it will A) be difficult to sell our house with this tank built into the wall how he made it and B) difficult to move with fragile critters and corals.
I asked him “Would it be possible to convert this tank into something easier to manage that will look great without all of the hard work and time?”
He responded “Roar, roar, why do always attack me and this tank, roar, roar, and why do want to take away something that I love?”
Something clicked in me. He does NEED this tank and LOVE this tank. He is ATTACHED to this tank. Hmmm. I don’t understand. In theory, yes I understand. But I have no possessions or relationships that I feel attached to permanently.
So here is my basis for reality. I have no attachments. Nothing really matters to me. Certainly not any of my stuff, its all just stuff. Hubby responded with “What if I asked you to get rid of your art supplies? You’re always so protective of them and don’t let the kids use them. Wouldn’t you be upset that I asked you to consider that?”
I considered it, and no. I protect the art supplies because they are expensive. If I could sell used pencils/paints I would do it and buy new ones later in life if desired. I have no attachment to these particular pencils/paints and no use for them at this moment in my life. It didn’t hurt or pain me at all. Its just stuff – I don’t NEED it.
And I starting thinking about the people in my life. I have no actual attachments there either – close but not it. And this isn’t new or some leftover of depression. I’ve felt this way all of my life. I can’t rely on anything or anyone and so I learned not to attach myself to anything I think. I love my kids and will do anything to protect them, but if I could give them to someone else to raise, I would not hesitate, and I would not miss them. I would be relieved. Being a mom is hard, and for me, honestly, not rewarding. Am I a terrible person? Well – I do hate this part of me. But I seriously think my brain is incapable of this level of bonding. Groomed my entire life to mistrust, to fear, to analyze, to avoid, to expect everything I care about to be destroyed or taken away from me — Raised to survive, not to love or be loved, not to need or be needed, not to expect anything to belong to me or remain mine for long. I recall the devastation of watching my objects of affection be tortured, mutilated, destroyed, or taken away from me countless times.
The only thing I could count on was not counting on anything. At this point, at 38, after 22 years of therapy and/or meds – I honestly do not believe my brain can recover from this.
I think love, need, attachment – I think those are things that need to be given to you by your parents. I am going through the motions to provide this for my kids, and I think it is working. I love my kids, but I don’t feel attached to them. I don’t need them. I don’t feel like they are mine, and I know this is terrible to write, but I wish they weren’t mine. If there were any way to drop them off at Grandma’s permanently without causing them pain, I would do it.
I have no NEED for other people. I have learned to tolerate people. I have no NEED to belong. AM I antisocial? Do I have attachment issues? Some borderline personality traits? Permanent sense of loss keeping me in an avoidance pattern? Did fearing and hating my parents and brothers, being repeatedly hurt and abandoned by childhood friends, being repeatedly disappointed by the amount of hurtful people in the world at large…Is this as good as it gets for me?
I see other parents at kid events – sports, plays, recitals, competitions, etc beaming with love and pride and experiencing joy at their kiddos accomplishments. I do and say the right things, but I don’t feel anything inside, nothing more for my kids than any of the others. I could just as easily swap kids and guide and encourage someone elses kids. I have a generalized sense of wanting the best for everyone, but no specific feelings about my own. I don’t live through my kids and generally find all of the extracurriculars a nuisance and annoyance using up my time and energy in preparation, driving and then either dealing with or avoiding the other parents.
So sorry Hubby. I know this is terrible. I have huge amounts of guilt for feeling – or not feeling – this way. But thank you for listening, and freeing me to finally discuss these feelings here as well. I feel like a bit of my load is lightened now that you know the truth. I also know it is too much for you to accept, and that you will protect yourself by thinking this must be a fleeting bout of depression causing this and that it isn’t true. Sadly it is one of the main topics I discuss with my therapist, week after week, year after year.
I don’t FEEL – I THINK.
Go to an article “Treating adult survivors of severe childhood abuse and neglect” http://www.johnbriere.com/stm.pdf