I HAVE BEEN DIVORCED FOR 3 YEARS. I AM A MOTHER OF A TEEN DAUGHTER. I'VE BEEN IN RECOVERY FOR 11 YEARS IN AA 12 STEPS. LIFE HAS CHANGED GREATLY! I AM VERY ATTRACTIVE, HAVE A GREAT JOB, AND BOUGHT A HOME.
SINCE MY DIVORCE I HAVE DATED A FEW MEN. NOT ALL OF THEM HAVE KNOWN I AM IN AA. I AM VERY ATTRACTIVE BUT I SEEM TO HAVE NO LUCK WITH MEN, EVEN THOUGH I GET A LOT OF LOOKS. THE RELATIONSHIPS NEVER BECOME SEXUAL BECAUSE I NEVER GET THAT FAR WITH THEM. I DATE MEN FOR 2-4 WEEKS AND THEY BACK AWAY OR GO FOR SOMEONE THAT MAY NOT MEASURE UP TO ME!
I AM TIRED OF REJECTION IT HURTS! BUT I HAVE A LOT GOING FOR ME IN OTHER AREAS OF MY LIFE.
I AM TIRED OF HURTING!
The way you wrote your letter above is pretty fascinating; I am referring to the way you used all caps to describe your situation, but wrote your own name (including the beginning "j,") all in lower case letters. That's interesting.
I don't know what those aspects of your letter might mean, but it seems likely that your question seems more important, or more urgent, than your identity does.
Does that fit for you?
I mean - on the whole - do you think it's more critical for you to realize and to let others know WHAT you are ("VERY ATTRACTIVE") or WHAT you do ("GREAT JOB") or WHAT you have done ("BOUGHT HOME") than it is for you to identify and let others know WHO you are?
That's probably a hard question for you to answer, but this online counselor's "take" on you (based on one letter) is that your self-worth is more tied up in what you DO than who you ARE, so it's easy to imagine how this might factor into any relationships or friendships you enter into. This need to identify yourself through your accomplishments is, I think, a distancing and self-protecting behavior; it pushes people away from really knowing you.
That's the (unconscious) purpose of it, of course. There is a part of you who is afraid of more loss, more pain, and more rejection, so you protect yourself from genuine intimacy by focusing on what you DO, rather than who you ARE.
I understand completely that you were merely describing the problem with which you want help. I understand completely that, in order to reach out to a counselor for guidance, you needed to talk about yourself and your situation.
What I'm suggesting, Jenny, is that the actual way you communicated about your situation (in all Upper Case letters) contrasts from the way you identified yourself (in all Lower Case letters) and that this difference might speak volumes about you - about the way you feel about you.
In e-mail and chat language, your letter "shouts," but - what is it shouting?
Here's my best guess...
You are still grieving. Maybe you are grieving the loss of your marriage (or the dream it once represented). Maybe you are still doing the long painful mourning of letting go of alcohol or drugs - despite your solid and lengthy recovery.
Maybe you have made some progress through your grief, in that you are no longer in denial over all of your losses. Maybe your mourning has advanced to the stage of anger (which would fit in nicely with the fiery all caps in your letter).
Maybe you are angry at how hard life has been as you've done so many things on your own, like buying a home and raising a daughter. If any of this is true, Jenny, your feelings make sense. If you are angry and you feel alone with overwhelming burdens, your feelings make sense.
My recommendation to you is that you participate in weekly therapy or work intensely with your 12 Step sponsor to process the underlying causes and conditions of your anger and hurt. Increase your weekly meetings, too. When you've completed this grief work, I predict you'll see your environment as less threatening and potentially hurtful. And, when you feel really better about yourself, you'll allow people - including men - to really get to know you - Jenny.
Margaret "Peg" Burr, MA, MFT
This question was answered by Margaret "Peg" Burr. She is a California Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (MFC34374) with a private practice in Santa Clarita (near Los Angeles). She performs psychodynamic psychotherapy with individual adult clients as well as couples, teens, and families. She also runs groups for adults and adolescents. Her specialty area is Object Relations Systems Theory. This branch of psychodynamic psychotherapy uses a client's interpersonal relationships as windows into his or her intrapsychic structure.For more information visit: http://www.pegburr.com/