You know how people say they have “types”? My type was the girl whose guts were scattered across a sandbox. I thought, “I can put this back together.”
I come from a cush life, cush family, cush everything. We were far from wealthy, rather, I was emotionally well protected. Too protected.
As I grew out of boyhood and into manhood, I dated bulimics, the anxiety ridden, and severely abused. I was a moth into the flame. It became a specialty. I was a fixer. I had so much positive to give that, surely, I can overcome the negative.
It started in college. I enjoyed getting girls to cry in our dormitory lounge about their problems because, to me, that meant we were developing a bond. It’s college, we’re supposed grow, ya know? I didn’t know much about pain or sadness at that point so it was like this movie I had to watch. I loved it and I got to pull all the strings.
What I didn’t realize then, was that I had started stirring the pot without any intentions of actually making soup. By getting someone to open up and share their story, I got to feel a bit of pain. I got fulfillment in that. But because I never wanted to see my own reflection in those conversations, I would just as quickly abandon those people. I would just stop talking to them. Easy. It scares me, still to this day, how easy it is for me to walk out on people.
Congratulations, me, and thank you, you. On to the next.
Years go by and I’m still doing the same because I’ve justified that I’m a learner, a challenger, a grower. So I started consciously speaking my desire for pain. I’ve dug around in wounds so deep that I got lost.
I was head-to-toe covered in a girl’s mess one time. I didn’t understand the twenty questions I was asking her without actually asking them. I didn’t know what I was doing or why I was doing it. It took the wisdom of one girlfriend to tell me I had no business making her traumas my own. Not because she was unwilling to let me play in the sandbox, but because she’d spent her entire life building a sandcastle that worked. It protected her. It was her roof. It was her safety. There was this beautiful relationship between the way she cared for it and it cared for her. I knew it protected her inner child from the storms that I was busy brewing. I didn’t even care. I still wanted to knock it down. I had to if I was going to build a sandcastle big enough for the two of us. That statement alone tells me how selfish I am. It tells me how presumptuous I am for how things are “supposed to be”. I still think that way. Needless to say, we are not together.
But I am starting to get it.
There is no such thing as either party being free-from-harm when you penetrate the source of a wound. I told one girl that I wanted her pain. She laughed and said, “Ben, you can have it all. And if you don’t want it all, I have enough for the both of us.”
So, now, I’ve spent the better part of the last ten years consciously seeking other peoples’ traumas to use as my own learning curve. This goes for friendships & relationships alike. Friends, family, men, women – no one is off limits. I’m afraid it repels a lot of relationships as people get to know me. I’m always trying to be aware of this so I don’t do more harm than help.
I don’t know if it’s truth or ego speaking, but I can still say with confidence,
“I am, in fact, going to use you.”
That hurts me.
I hope if anyone is reading this that has been on the wrong end of my process, you can forgive me. I promise you that I’m slowly growing and I love you for what you’ve given me.