Falling backwards

I’ve never had much trouble attracting women. I’ve always thought it was for a combination of reasons. I was always slightly elusive, which drew many on, plus I had the nonchalance of someone indifferent to public opinion. On top of that, I had wit and intelligence – I was an interesting, often fun person to be around. I want to think my more sensitive qualities played a part, but it seems to me that only ever counts as we become more intimate. There are women today who think I’m a hard bastard and somehow like me for it. To discover that I’m actually quite sensitive too comes as an unexpected twist.

Without doing much, there seem to be a bunch of women about now. I think part of it is that I’ve plugged myself back into the grid and have become visible again. I’m catching up with a lot of people lately that I’d neglected by circumstance over the past few years. Most of them are women. I enjoy the company of women, I enjoy being interesting to them, and I enjoy unpeeling the layers. I suspect there are a couple from my past who might have subtle designs if things work out the right way – they know me, they always liked me, they trust me.

I feel none of that myself, but I don’t rule it out. I don’t think it’s really my scene, and for me, that moment has long past. In its place is affection and genuine interest – I like them too, I’m curious about their life, and in my own way, I care for them.

I did some reading over the weekend while I was in the maelstrom. I’m always reading, and I have an open mind. I was thinking about what I wanted and what I felt. In the background was this other woman, who I like, but don’t know if I like in that way. That’s neither here nor there, but as I considered that and did my reading, I came to admit another undoubted flaw.

I have intimacy issues, I think. That’s probably news to no-one, including me, but it became front and centre, and here I am trying to change the way I interact and respond to the world about me it seemed high time I actually did something about it.

I had happened across attachment theory, which I’d read about previously, but from a more academic perspective. This time I felt it more personally. I can’t explain the why or how of it and don’t know which of the formative relationships made it so (though there is complexity there), but I have little doubt I fall dead centre of the avoidant type. It accounts for most of my adult intimate relationships, with few exceptions. I would rationalise it at the time, I didn’t have the time or space, there were other things I wanted to do, I didn’t want to settle down yet/commit, there was someplace I had to travel to, things weren’t perfect, and of course, I wanted to keep my options open.

I’m curious about the root cause of this behaviour, but that’s lost in the mists of time and may not be relevant any longer. What’s important is now and the opportunity before me. I want to learn to commit, to give over of myself which, it seems to me, is the crux of the issue.

As I sit here writing this, the key issue appears to be of trust, and maybe that gives some clue how I developed like this. It’s like one of those exercises whereby you allow yourself to fall backwards and trust there will be someone there to break your fall. I’ve always framed this in terms of independence – I don’t need anyone to catch me, I can manage it myself. Perhaps that is learned because I couldn’t rely on being caught when it counted – I don’t recall that, yet I know my mum suffered a nervous breakdown before I was ten, which made her pretty frail. Perhaps I learned then that I had to tend for myself – my father was a distant, often absent character. In any case, what I frame as a desire for self-sufficiency (which so many find alluring) is, in fact, a reluctance to trust to fate.

If this is so then the obvious solution is to allow myself to fall, trusting to it. Easier said than done, but at least now – perhaps – I understand.

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