Thursday, January 8, 2009

Professional advice

I'm seeing a therapist.  It wasn't my idea; it's a requirement of the weight management program I'm on.  My latest appointment was aptly scheduled—this morning, and if ever I needed therapy, now's the time.  I don't really know that I feel any better after the visit, or if I'm going to take any of the advice, but I do at least enjoy talking to her, and I thought it might be interesting to share what she said.

She's glad that I'm writing about what happened in my life.  She seemed a little surprised that I made my feelings so public, but said that it was a good idea to at least write them down.  That's part of why I'm posting this.

She said that I should not dwell on the breakup.  It may not be a good thing to pretend that it's not affecting me, but it's not a good idea to think about it all the time either.  I must not mope around or stay depressed.  That's not really me, so I think I'll be okay there.  I have developed a remarkable ability to quickly restore lost moods.  Her advice was to date a lot of people in a short period of time, and soon—get some practice, build confidence, and give the guys a chance to prove themselves, and toss them if they don't.  This doesn't seem terribly likely to me.  Meeting people new even in a non-dating sense is very exhausting to me, and I think I would become a broken shell of a man if I tried to do it frequently.

She asked me what I would look for in a future boyfriend.  I told her that while I thought it honestly sounded lame and clingy, I would look for someone very similar to my new ex.  I was the one who was dumped, and that hasn't changed the kinds of qualities I'm looking for.  In fact, this is honestly just an extended version of something I've been going through my whole life: finding someone and then being just a little bit destroyed when it becomes clear that they don't like me in the same way.  (Usually it just turns out that me being a guy is the deal-breaker.)  It just took far, far longer this time, and got more emotionally complicated.  So, what I'm looking for is basically a boyfriend just like the last one, hoping for a stronger connection next time.

She asked if my newfound confidence would make dating easier for me in the future.  I asked her what new confidence she swears she sees in me—I'm vulnerable and everything but confident right now.  I answered that I honestly feared that it might make future dating even more difficult for me, rather than easier.  Despite how it ended up, I still feel like I lucked out.  I found someone so very close to my ideals on my first honest attempt at dating.  My standards are extremely high now.  She assured me that that was a fantastic thing, and in theory I suppose it is, but I fear that I may reject people who don't deserve it because of that.  I think that starting with high (and frankly picky) standards is why it took me so long to find boyfriend number one in the first place.  But a lot of it, too, was shyness and perhaps a little laziness in not searching people out, waiting for them to present themselves to me.

(On a tangent, this whole experience has affected me in one fairly profound way: before it, as I've posted many times before, I was quite certain that I could be happy living alone forever, and I don't think that was at all incorrect at the time.  But, I'm beginning to think that it may no longer be true.  I may have ruined that for myself in the same way that you can't go back and play Diablo after you've played Diablo II.  Diablo was great and you were very pleased when you were playing it, but after you've played Diablo II you don't want Diablo anymore.  You just can't go back, and you want more.  I don't know.  Ask me in a month.  Hmm, a month from now will be Valentine's Day.  Maybe two months.)

We didn't have a lot of time due to starting about forty minutes late, but before I left, she asked me if I loved him.  I talked about that already in my last post, but the short version is that I said that I don't know because I don't know what that means.  Just yesterday at lunch I was remarking how I don't understand how we managed to form terms like "heartburn" and "migraine," because I couldn't see how people managed to describe those feelings in a way that made people think, "oh yeah, I've felt exactly what you describe too."  I don't have the context and experience to know if I've ever had heartburn or a migraine.  And I don't know if I've been in love.


Anonymous said...

Love is a tricky thing. When we use the word "love," it means different things to everyone, just because we each feel things differently. In that regard, English kind of sucks - because "love" is an all incompassing word that covers a wide range of things. I've said it before: many other languages do a better job of breaking apart those different emotions.

I think you should just do what you think is best for you. Feeling hurt and pain is part of the healing process - and it never feels good when you were the one who was let go (trust me - I've NEVER been the one doing the dumping!) And trust me, if you are getting too emo, you have friends who will kick your ass till you get better!

I must say, I am amazed that you are sharing as much of your feelings and emotions as you are. If it was me going through this the most I would post is "Life sucks....I'm depressed." Or something equally vague.

But, I am sure that there is someone out there for you.

Travis said...

Yeah, that's another point that I didn't even touch on. When I say that I don't know if I "loved" someone or was "in love," I'm talking about something exceptional, something that I've experienced either zero or one times in my life. I can say, though, with no real awkwardness that in a different way I do love him in at least the same way that I love you and all my friends. I care for you all and desire for you all to be happy. Of that I am absolutely certain.

Friendship is complicated enough.

When I share intimately personal details about myself on here, I tend to deny that it's something that I "usually" do. It doesn't fit my personality, and so forth. But maybe that was only the case in the past. Perhaps I'm starting to open up in real life too. I don't quite know yet.

And, I figure that if there are people who are actually interested in what I have to say and what's going on in my life, I should reward them from time to time with some actual insights that they otherwise would not have gotten.