love psychoanalysis

having people

I am suddenly very tired of some people. Please don’t judge me poorly. I think I have exhausted myself chasing them. I feel tired.

I realize there are people in my life who can give me x, where x is way not enough and way not what I want, yet I have spent years investing a tremendous amount of energy in the pursuit of more-than-x, an intimacy, a closeness, a mutual lovingness I should have known was never going to happen.

I have done this all of my life. My husband said to me once (a long, long time ago): “When people tell you something about themselves, you should believe them.” People have told me repeatedly, often in so many words, that they can only give so much, that they don’t like too much closeness, that they need time, that…

It’s not that I don’t understand what they are saying. I simply don’t believe them.

Now I see that I could not, simply could not, follow my husband’s advice. My mind was structured in such a way that the possibility of not pursuing, at all costs, intimacy with people I like and love was simply not there. I am learning so much about psychic structures. I am learning that people can’t help themselves. I couldn’t help myself.

I think I am learning for the first time in my life not to pursue people who don’t want to be pursued. What a concept. And here’s another concept I have learned but I am having a hard time, still, putting into practice: it is of no use whatsoever to tell people that some of their behaviors are damaging to them. It is infinitely more helpful to give them as much acceptance as we have to give and hold our peace.

But sometimes this need to tell and tell again comes from that other need, the need to get close to them. You need a solid measure of self-love to hold your peace. There is no peace at all to be held without self-love.

I have despaired for years (I say years but I should say decades) over the loss of friends I never had in the first place, some of them people who had no idea I longed so much for them, and would have been astonished to learn it. Now I’m sitting quietly, finally mourning their never-to-be-changed distance from me, their being not-what-I-want. I mourn my relinquishing of them and my relinquishing of a whole way of wanting, desiring, and having people. It’s being a long and painful mourning.

Once I had a therapist who was a kindly woman but didn’t know enough about the soul and the mind of people; I saw her for many years to little gain. One day, in a moment of what felt to me great openness and vulnerability, I told her about my anguish at the prospect of losing someone. There was huge anxiety and loss in that statement. I was in great pain. My therapist memorably and lapidarily said: “We can’t lose people because we don’t own them.” I count this as one of the two or three most useless/hurtful things she ever said to me.