Heart v Head

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Remember when I boasted a couple of blogs ago about how something good had happened and that I was going to try and enjoy it as I didn’t know when the wave was going to come and take me again? Ha. That was silly. I should know better than to tempt fate like that.

The wave came, it pulled me under, thrashed me about a bit and now I’m sort of left adrift with no dry land in sight.

Yeah, bit dramatic, you’re right. But I do feel a bit like I may be slightly broken.

There’s a quote that always sticks in my head when I try and articulate how I feel. It’s something Jim Carey said when his then girlfriend had taken her own life. He said she wasn’t made for this world and that she was too delicate to deal with the world and all it threw at her (or words to that effect, I’ve never been able to locate the actual quote since). This is something I completely resonate with, because this is how I feel every single day. I feel everything deeply and I feel completely bound, and sometimes suffocated by my emotions. If I’m sad about something, and that something can be something relatively small or trivial to most, I can’t shake it, I can’t take my mind off it. It’s visceral, it’s all-encompassing and it physically grapples with me to the point where I shake, hyperventilate or am sick.

And it works the other way too. If I’m happy about something, I’m ecstatic and blinded by the happiness to such a degree that everything else feels completely insignificant. It makes normal emotions such as falling for someone very difficult indeed, because it’s all or nothing from the get-go. I open the door and it all floods in. There’s no playing it cool, there’s no “let’s see how it goes” or “let’s take it slowly”. If I like someone I jump straight in and pretty much hand my heart to them on a plate. In my mind this has always felt like a good thing to do, knowing that when I like someone, I like them wholeheartedly and that it’s not likely to change any time soon and I want them to know that. I’ve never thought about how my making myself so vulnerable makes the other person feel and how it may actually put a great deal of pressure on the other party, especially in a relationship in its infancy. I have such a great capacity to love and care that sometimes I suffocate people with it.

Something else which puts a great deal of pressure on a new relationship is someone having something of a mental health meltdown after 6 weeks. Yep, me again. When you’re in pain, you’ll do anything not to feel the pain. And whilst self-harm has been an antidote in the past (and admittedly was for a very short period this time too), what felt like the biggest remedy on this occasion was affection and the love of one person. Having starved myself of affection for a long time, having someone around again to cuddle me, kiss me and play with my hair felt otherworldly and the answer to absolutely everything that had been making me so sad for so long. And the more the depression took hold the more dependent I became on this sole affection and attention. Of course that’s not healthy and not fair on the other person, but when you’re in the midst of it you’re not thinking rationally and you’re much like an addict looking for your next fix. And much like an addict, when you can’t get that fix for whatever reason, you go in to a tailspin and start to lash out. I became quite selfish and unattractively needy and put quite unrealistic (in hindsight) expectations on someone who hadn’t known me very long and who was going through their own stuff.

We didn’t make it, and of course there’s other reasons for that but ultimately in my mind, I made the big mistake of heart over head and didn’t pace myself. I think I lied to myself a little when I said that I didn’t want a boyfriend to cure my loneliness – of course I hoped he would, and he did in so many ways that I’ll be eternally grateful for. Evenings were spent with another person and there was a reason to cook again, a reason to go to the cinema or away for a weekend and so many other things that have felt out of my grasp for so long. And I got completely wrapped up in that feeling – that not feeling cripplingly alone and void every night – and it’s as if as soon as I got it, I worried about losing it again and put ridiculous amounts of pressure on myself (and him) to make things work and didn’t really allow myself to enjoy it. Something which I now painfully regret as I’m sat here writing this putting off going home to an empty flat. Relationships come and go, yes, but the priority should always be to enjoy your time with that special someone and not fixate on the future and the what-ifs. I certainly think it would make the deep sadness I’m feeling about it being over slightly easier if I felt I had given the best of myself, but the reality is I didn’t and perhaps couldn’t at the time, and it’s a bitter pill to swallow.

5 responses to “Heart v Head”

  1. Thank you for sharing your experiences, both the ups and downs. I feel much the same way, success at work, “everything’s great” smile, but so lonely inside. I think a lot of people misunderstand those like us, it’s not loneliness because of negative aspects of life, quite contrary we experience life at its fullest and just want someone to share it with on a deeper level.

    Takes courage to open up as you have, I wish you the best in your search Michelle.

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  2. Hi Michelle, what you did in that relationship was perfectly normal. I do the same thing and I’ve seen it with friends too, especially anyone who has been single for a longer time. It’s completely normal to over compensate for that lost time and you should not feel bad about it. The right person will have worked out what’s happening and helped you through it, until things calm down into a more long term relationship. You’ll find that right person and it will make sense then. To lots of people that vulnerability is not unattractive as it shows you’re a caring and loving person. As the right relationship progresses you’ll naturally fine tune that vulnerability as you feel more secure in yourself and your partner. Don’t regret your behaviour, be proud of it. There will have been other reasons why it didn’t work this time but don’t close yourself off to other potential partners because this one didn’t work. Sorry for the unsolicited advice and if I have missed the point. I’ve just been in a similar position myself.

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  3. Sorry to hear you’ve been having a rough time lately. Sending you lots of hugs and best wishes. Btw, if you google “Jim Carrey too delicate” I think you will find the quote you are looking for.

    Stay strong!

    Jeremy

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  4. Beautifully written. I can relate to this 100%. It is very hard to feel every emotion so hard. I too put too much pressure on my partner to make me feel good, it’s not right because my expectations are too high. I let one person determine how my day goes basically. But I experience this with strangers too. If I go to the shop and one person is friendly to me, smiles or makes a gesture, it can give me so much positive energy. But slight negative things can drag me down completely. I wish there was a middle way!

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  5. I found your blog through a Refinery article on loneliness and it is so refreshing. I have long been looking for a blog like this and thinking of creating one of my own. Something my therapist once said to me that really stuck is: if you could have, you would have. It makes it harder to have regrets knowing you just weren’t capable of _______ at the moment through (and this is the most important part) no fault of your own. Having a mental illness isn’t your fault. I had a complete mental health breakdown a few weeks into meeting my husband and we got married less than a year later. Before I met him I had been in the exact situation you described a million times. The right person will be able to accept all the parts of you. Hang in there. ❤️

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