Almost 30, filled with hang ups and doubt, on collision course with self-prescribed therapeutic imperative.
[Abridged Autobiography Inside]
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (17 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Background: Guy, 29, straight. I have a history of really unstable self-image. Sometimes I'll feel really cocky, and full of piss and vinegar, feeling my oats, like I could take on the world; but a lot of the time I sink into bouts of self-harm, drug/alcohol binges, and skipping meals for a feeling of control. In the past, during those times I'd lie awake thinking of how much I suck, and how to kill myself.
At my lowest (after I started stubbing cigarettes out on myself, and attempted suicide twice), I told my family and friends about my problems, and checked myself into a mental hospital for a week. They diagnosed me as Bipolar II: alternating between hypomania, and sever depression. Hypomania means I'm reckless and impulsive, but I don't think I can fly or deflect bullets. I was put on anti-depressants and mood stabilizers, and held for observation.
After I left, I found a therapist who does CBT, and some other active non-talk therapies. She's great, and she says I'm making good progress; overall, I agree. I think it's due in part to my willingness to hurl myself at new situations, which is probably still some remnant of hypomanic behavior, even if not technically the disorder itself. I've checked in with a psychiatrist monthly, and had my medications upped several times. My mood swings have become more tolerable, less self-destructive.
The problem that's arisen (haha), is that the anti-depressants have acutely increased my sex drive. Which should be great, but as my therapist put it, I have "walls everywhere," rather than boundaries. Even as a small child, I can recall my mother and her friends bitterly decrying their husband/SO's sexual wants within earshot. Sex was portrayed as this imposition men put upon women. Sometimes (as a child) I was addressed directly, given "advice" about women that basically reflected their own neuroses. I'd become humiliated, and eventually learned to divest myself of any connection to my own body.
I have no religious, or articulable moral hangups, but sex has terrorized me all my life, to the point that making any kind of physical advance seems like the worst, most despicable thing I could possibly do. So I've managed never to do it. I feel the impetus sometimes to express some kind of physical interest; but even conceived innocuously, I keep seeing an image of a girl going Ecchh, what the fuck?! Are you out of your mind? What made you think I'd want you touching me? And walking away, to normal intimacy with someone else, as abstract to me as a musical note. When it first occurred to me that sex was something women actually cared about, it was incomprehensible to me. Fortunately, I've managed to separate the women I know now from those I knew as a child, feeling only resentment toward the individuals responsible for my childhood trauma. I don't view women as the “other.” We get along fine, and I’m as comfortable talking to them as I am to guys, etc. As far as I know I'm liked.
My longest "relationship" was with a woman as walled-off as I (a sweet girl, just kind of emotionally arrested), so when I finally expressed my feelings toward her (after a couple months of going out), she quietly freaked. She later told me that "that part of her" was dormant. We're still on OK terms. In the second longest span, I asked out a girl, knowing that she would be leaving the country in a month and a half. So we went out for that time. We were slightly physical, while blindingly drunk, just before she left. Of course, she had to start it.
The remainder of my dating history describes briefer series of movies, dinners, drinks, good conversations; after which we gradually drop off into casual friendships. After four or five "dates," we both just sort of slow down on visits, then finally stop. I've never acted clingy, or been turned down. I'm not fighting them off with a stick, but I've noticed when they make cheesy excuses to hang out with me, or are cueing me to ask them out. In other words, I can give a reasonable facsimile of a well-adjusted, confident guy, offering a semblance of a healthy relationship, to a point — then I hit the wall, and possibly confuse, irritate, and bore these women.
Unless I'm completely mistaken about the problem, and none were ever interested to begin with (a thought that keeps me awake at night).
Whatever the case, it's not faux "respect," or disinterest that keeps me from communicating my intentions; it's an intense fear and hatred toward my own body and sexuality. I want to feel close to someone, vulnerable, physically explore them, but I'm also rattled with a paralyzing degree of conflicting emotions. However, I can reciprocate touch to the extent that, I guess, I was given "permission" by her initiating it. A big burden, with no way to say it.
Now, the immediate concern. At the risk of sweating desperation from my eyeballs, and failing because of that, I've made it a goal to get laid (I hate that term) before my monumental birthday in several months. It doesn't have to be good, or fun, or sober, or lead to anything afterward. It just has to happen, with someone I'm attracted to, and by way of whatever charm I can raise (for god's sake, do not suggest an escort). I do eventually want fulfilling physical relationships, but right now I just have to prove something to myself.
I'm not good at hitting on women cold, as in approaching them in bars or clubs. It's easier with women I meet through friends, or activities (which I may well be, in spades, in the next several months).
I suppose I'm looking for advice on how to fulfill my sophomoric goal.
Please don't suggest "Intimate Connections." I read it, and it didn't jive with me. And don't say I'm simply not ready to deal with intimacy. I never will be if I keep thinking about it, not trying anything. I won't be dissuaded by words. I'm too certain the precedent will change the way I think about things, somehow.
[Sorry for the tl;dr post, but since I can't respond easily later, I want to cover everything.]