To trust and put yourself into the hands of others

I’ve realized that opening up about your troubles and worries to another person is also putting your trust in your fellow man. It is frightening as well – the most frightening of all perhaps – to put so much trust into another being; keeping many – including myself – from ever actually doing it. We guard ourselves – or parts of our inner selves. Even from those we love – sometimes because we think we protect them in some way or another by doing so.

As an example, I’ve long wondered why I’ve never really known my parents or why they could suddenly react with so utter distrust or secrecy towards me or my sister in the smallest of matters. Now I see that they guard themselves; have probably done so all their lives – and now grown so inveterate in doing so that they’ve stopped hoping or believing in ever trusting another being with their innermost worries, vulnerabilities and flaws.

I guess we are all looking for a savior; in ourselves, in someone else, in something beyond us. When we’ve forgotten how to believe in ourselves, we hope for a way to believe in ourselves again. Perhaps to let someone in who can show us how. Perhaps by loving us.

We all just want to be happy in the end, don’t we?

Maybe we never really give up hope, so even when those we thought we loved and trusted disappoint us, we push them away and stubbornly try and look elsewhere. Naturally but often wrongly so, because maybe we did not give those we pushed away a second chance.

It all sounds very sappy and perhaps I’m just feeling a little emotional right now. But I can’t help thinking there’s some truth in it somewhere. If not in anyone else’s case, then in my own.

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How insignificant such a little thing can seem and how significant it can be

I’m very fond and grateful for my close INFP friend whom I’ve previously mentioned, yet I cannot help feeling somewhat left out in some essential aspects, because I often find myself in the position of (once again) being the listener and the helper, rarely the other way around. She does ask how I’m doing from time to time but rarely probes any further, and I know I’m no good at talking about my feelings, opting for the dismissive, self-deprecating way of dealing with such matters – though, in truth, it covers a desperate cry for help or just a listening, committed ear. However, despite all our years of friendship where I’ve tried to listen, help and learn about her, she has not detected this essential aspect of me (just like my parents and family … ain’t life funny, huh?), much less detected a certain other significant happening in my life, despite it was around the beginning of our friendship where we practically lived together. But it’s not just her. Of course it’s not just her; really, I cannot blame her.

And it leaves me wondering if I’ll remain the puzzle INTPs are so famous of being, despite showing myself, listening and opening myself up; never doubting my own worth or originality? Or if I’m really just so uninteresting? Forever the wallflower? Or that I’m somehow too confusing? I feel like screaming like Jane Eyre. Do they all honestly know me so little? Do they think I’m confident enough to deal with things my own way, so they don’t have to care? Do they think that I’m am unemotional cardboard character who can deflect worries with a witty intellect and a smile, never getting truly struck or depressed by anything? That I don’t have real, profound, lasting feelings and worries of my own?!

My parents haven’t given my feelings much trust and credit through the years, that’s for sure. But the formers are hardly experts or idols to inspire to in that department either. Yet, it does something significant to one’s self-perspective. That’s maybe partly why I have tried to detach myself from my parents. I was never shown the overall sympathetic acknowledgement and respect for my feelings (basically because my parents never really understood feelings or how to handle them properly; they just pretended to and smiled awkwardly), thus, now, in my adulthood I have a hard time showing them the amount of acknowledgement and respect for their feelings that they probably expect or should be given. I just can’t. I see and know of their internal ‘suffering’, but after all these years of dealing only with their inner, self-involved, projected bitterness to each other and all and sundry I’m too exhausted, too selfish to help, empathize or worry on behalf of them anymore. On the other hand, being their child and loving them, I can never not worry about what their feelings do to them, exhausting me as well, but I honestly wonder whether they have ever cared or wondered about my feelings for more than a couple of minutes or hours. After all, do they even know me? I’m not sure. Then what can they worry about (besides the usual superficialities about my getting a job or a house or enough money etc.), making whatever it is they come up with about them and their own guilt? Jeez. Can you see why I cannot deal with them?

And all of this just hurts all the more, because I feel I invest myself the best I can in people, despite all my shortcomings in dealing with emotions and that I do it in, perhaps, rather unconventional ways. I guess I am a misunderstood creature, after all. But I refuse to be blinded by my own flaws and only wallow in self-absorbed pity parties. I want to understand what and why, thus this post. I know I could do more for the people around me – hell, you can always do more! – but at least I am not spiteful against the human race; I am open and constructive-critical at the same time, I do not seek to judge or dismiss the feelings of others before I’ve heard the reasons behind them and even then I will try to take them into account. I can see and I know people feel and suffer and worry, no matter what they say otherwise, and I acknowledge all this, worry about what it will do to them personally and interpersonally, always feeling on behalf of them and wanting to help. Yet, it never reflects on me more than couple of brief moments that I can count on one hand. I’m not greedy or ungrateful, I only ask for such simple, basic, human things that I’ve never received for myself, only given. Am I still making this about me? Probably, but all I want is to understand the two-way street of interaction and various relationships and why I always feel left out in some way.

I do not understand that no matter what I do I can never seem to reach the goal so many others have reached at some point in their lives; finding a sense of prolonged belonging and understanding with someone else beyond oneself, family and friends. Especially, since I do it my way and, lately, I’ve opened myself more up to those around me, gaining confidence (or just jaded nonchalance aka ‘so far nothing has happened, so why not just let it go?’), balancing my life between my antics and introversion and meeting the world the best I can, yet I seem to fall right back into the patterns of old. I’ve done everything one should or can in terms of one’s self-image; I am myself, staying true to myself and open to the world, no matter how depressed, cynic or romantic I become. I cannot help that I’m no good with interpersonal and social superficialities – which I try to accept and overcome in my own way – because I simply and silently care about them: The people themselves and their inner beings; what effects their thoughts, feelings and actions have on themselves and others. How to show them this without putting on a show of stilted theatrics or compromising my own integrity? I do my best to inquire and learn and listen in order to show my interest and care for them without going about it the usual way. Again; picking up the phone, remembering birthdays, gossipping, giving gifts, go clubbing and getting drunk, talking about boys and clothes, platitudes and trivial matters in order to show that I care and am a good friend is not really my thing. I am simply here. In the literal and non-literal sense, if you like; always here to lend an open, but critical ear, give thoughts about the world, advice and guide without necessarily leading or expecting anything in return. However, I do hope for the latter. Not credit or even gratitude, just a reflection of genuine care and interest beyond the bonds of blood or returned pleasanties. Someone to react on impulse. Again, I am human; a three-dimensional person with my own life, needs, thoughts and feelings. I demand only so little, yet oh so significant sentiments in return.

Still, I’m left bereft. So strange never to have been touched just for me, held my hand – anything. How significant such a little thing can be. I sometimes fear nothing and no one (perhaps beyond myself and my sister) grounds me to this world and I will one day lift from the ground and fly upwards, vanishing into the thin air, leaving no significant trace behind. Not forgotten, but never that memorable either. Never to have played a vital role in anybody’s life. Never made an emotional impact beyond having been a friend, daughter, sister and niece. Not that those aren’t important or worth living for, but I cannot help myself thinking there must be more to life, especially since my sense of belonging is so limited in those above roles, in the first place. I have heard people with depression and suicidal thoughts mirror this sentiment, and though I may have a tendency to depression and self-pity, I could never off myself since I only have myself. I’m simply baffled by life – no more than any of you – but cannot help stating the facts and feeling left perplexed by them. In my logical INTP mind they do not make sense, but my mind also persists in rationalizing the world and making it into a chess game where everything must be balanced through causality. Yet, reality is rarely so. I cannot expect to receive or meet interest and understanding on the same level as I feel like giving.

I give in the amounts I am able and hope to one day receive in kind, and I imagine the rest. Yes, adventure and great love would be grand, but honestly, (and yeah, it may sound weird) because of my vivid imagination and the world of fiction, I have no greater need to explore the world (more than I already have) like so many of my peers who have interrailed and trekked foreign countries on their own in order to find themselves. I don’t necessarily believe one can find what one seeks by going out and about. One could easily find what one seeks by seeing what’s right in front of one’s nose. Besides, one does not necessarily have to find oneself outside oneself; you have to bring it as well, I believe. Or maybe you already have it, you just don’t know? The argument is at least 50/50. Some gain and develop by outwardly exploring the world, others don’t. The former may find grand adventure and meet many people, but at some point they’ll have to return home (unless they don’t return and likely are running away from something), often to discover their problems remain the same and within. Others seek inwards first of all, and say all you like about that, but seeking outwards isn’t per definition a better solution. Just like being social and partying doesn’t necessarily mean you are or feel less alone. I believe parties are often loneliness (if not happiness) exploded; an entropy of loneliness in the most basic, human form.

However, I also know I cannot get to know people if I do not meet them. My loneliness cannot surprise me that much, after all, but to rectify it I must do so in my own tempo, step by step; take what comes (and never settle). It just never seems to be my day. I wonder if it’s something intrinsic – rather than mere lazy cowardice – within the INTP (or maybe it’s just me) to not actively seek out human affection but to stay and wait for it to come to me? Maybe because we/I feel – or I rationalize it into the notion – that I don’t have the right to force my selfish need upon others? Also, given the fact that none so far has responded when I have opened up and been myself, my rationalizing has taken a step further and concluded that ‘why should anyone respond any differently in the future?’. Yes, I’ve grown partly cynic, but on the other hand, I can never quench my incessantly, persisting, sappy hope of a potential soulmate(s) out there. My self-pity takes root in this as well as my carelessness. There’s never just one side. It’s always two-faced. I have accepted that this inner battle is a significant part of adulthood.

Perhaps it’s my darn ‘chessplayer brain’ again; with lightning speed, it has taken almost every situation in life into account beforehand, inserting me in every possibility and mercilessly ruled me out of those in which I logically would not happen to come across or fit. Thus, unconsciously, I’ve already reconciled myself with the possibility that there are aspects of life that I’ll likely never have or experience (just like I know which ones I can achieve on my own), but then I ask myself if I have even tried to prove my brain wrong? Yes, somewhat, I’ve just not been very lucky in achieving evidence to the contrary. Once again: Brain, 1-0. Yes, I know, it’s sounds pretty daft to be in contest with your own brain/rationale, right? Maybe only you INTPs out there will understand this. If not, then I’m certified bat-shit crazy. But you see, very little has happened in my life and with a analyzing, rationalizing brain like mine – and I believe, that of an INTP – you remember every little, seemingly insignificant incident in your life that was less than favourable and/or confusing. It’s unavoidable not to take them into account to try and analyze past deeds and interactions in order to conclude something of your life and coming future. Whatever I fancy myself to imagine, my harsh inner realist tells me it’s still only imagination and not real.

Thus, my conclusions come to an ambivalent end. I’ve have nothing to truly complain about that I cannot do something about myself and yet, I still feel something is missing. Something essential that I see others have or have experienced at some point. I try to tell myself that I have something they don’t and maybe I do, but will it ever compensate for what life’s really about? Perhaps not. And (self)pity will do me no good, I know. It’s one of the least attractive traits you can have, so I try and banish it with self-deprecation, knowing full well that it only screams louder of my inner conflict and everyone or no one might hear it. And it doesn’t exactly help that my brain keeps telling me that I’m far from the only one who longs for this, that I cannot even allow myself to complain about this, that I’m so damn lucky, spoilt and privileged compared to those in greater misfortune than I. And I know this, but I have no alternative to cling to once this obvious fact has been stated.

*sighs heavily*

It seems I always end up right back where I started.

Maybe I haven’t tried enough? Taken enough chances? But I honestly don’t know what else I can do, when all I have ever done is being myself!? I do not believe I haven’t lived or tried or taken chances, though I know I could probably have taken more (but then again, you can always take more). I will not budge from staying true to myself – and though no one said you should, so far it hasn’t really proven masterfully rewarding. My stubborn independence will perhaps always be my vice, rendering me unlucky in certain aspects of life that others stumble more ‘easily’ upon. I sometimes wish for a fruitful collision of sorts, but real-life is not like a movie script and you mostly need luck and coincidence for such happenings which you cannot exactly buy at the supermarket. So what does my rationale conclude? That if I cannot ever control what happens in life, all I can do is just be, exist and wait for it to show itself in its usual, random ways. Not much to build ambitions and expectations around, you see? So, ironically, in spite of these lengthy, self-involved posts I write here, I mostly shrug and say ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I can’t say’ whenever someone ask me what I think my future will bring, what I want to be, where and with whom I see myself in 5 or 10 years, etc. etc.. Yes, the smalltalk quickly runs short on the subject of me and the awkward silence endures.

In continuation with my previous posts about realizing that I probably never had or ever will find understanding and true belonging within the family (besides my sister, of course) and friends of the family, this has already been emphasized about three times since last summer. I’ve parcipated in at least two large family and friends gatherings where I knew most of the people attending and I don’t think I’ve ever felt more alone and alienated in my life. If my sister hadn’t been there as well, I think I would have gone mad! Some instances have been better than others and I’m fortunately armoured with a robust patience, but it really wears thin when it’s confirmed again and again just how little in common I have with so many people that is of my blood and relation. Well, nobody said blood instantly equals a deeper sense of belonging and mutual understanding (rather than pity), but this is close to ridiculous, because I’ve rarely felt so estranged than from my own family! I’ve received more genuine interest from friends of family members than the members themselves! Well, one side of the family, in particular. I’ve tried to be patient and listen, even be so daring to voice my opinion and try to discuss things with them but been quietly rebuffed each time, like I was invisible (story of my life). I seriously consider ranting about one particular incident with this side of the family that left me so utterly miffed and indignant, but partly thanks to my stupid naivety I still keep telling myself that this was just a one-time thing, despite having been proved otherwise multiple times. And an emotional rant about a personal incident would be no good. I have too many feelings about this particular episode, I’m not sure it would be a good idea to even begin a summary.

Anyways …

So what do I want? Someone to wallow in my depressive self-pity with? No, I just want a companion. To be seen. Really seen. And understood, not pitied. It’s such a pathetic, slushy request – perhaps even mundane in all its universality – but the one thing I ache for in life more than anything else, I think. I try to think of instances, often fleeting moments, where I believe I’ve been seen (or seen someone else), but I come up short. If so, they were gone too quickly, never to be realized. So you see, I roam this earth alone; my attachment to it seems ethereal. And yet, it doesn’t make me anymore special than any of you or other lonely souls out there. It’s a human condition, I believe.

Only … those who have found a companion, have they/you not cut an edge off that encompassing loneliness, because it is now shared by two? Have you not been grounded to the world through understanding, touch and even love from another human being by your side? Even if it did or will not last, at least you were so lucky to have experienced it. I envy that. So far my life has persistently diverted from such happenings to the point where I begin to wonder whether it will ever truly happen or if it’s all only in fiction. So, (until then, if ever), I dive into fiction to get my fix. Sad but true. (Please tell me I’m not the only one). It may all just be a phase until ‘real-life’ hits me after this summer where I’m finished at uni and need to get a job and a life. I cannot honestly say what is going to happen or what I can or will do to make whatever it is happen – other than what one would normally and sensibly do. You follow? Hm, not sure I do either.

So that’s that.

PS. If you got absolutely nothing out of this post, it’s fine. I’m not sure I did either, apart from getting to vent a bit. Hope the next one will have a slightly more sunny prospect.

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Moments of epiphany

How and when do you know you’ll probably never reach a deeper understanding between yourself and your family/parents?

I guess there are many degrees of toxic environments to grow up in and I definitely got the ‘lucky’ end of the stick. Still, certain patterns do form within relationships, no matter what kind; hidden, denied or not, and today I realized mine. I may always have known it was there but I also thought I was merely reading too much into things; that I was being dramatic and pathetic; that I was more at fault than others. And though this may sound dramatic either way, I can’t help but telling what I know to be the truth for me. Especially, if the truth comes through the seemingly smallest of incidents, followed by a silent epiphany that tells a message somehow all too familiar to oneself; one you have always known deep down. Especially, if it comes the very first day back in the family’s bosom – and unfolds in its usual and all too disappointing pattern.

Moments of epiphany come in many shapes and sizes and mine came like a stinging reopening of a cut close to my heart, if not on the heart itself. And, as I said, when it happens the very first day back home for the holidays, you know in your heart (you all but literally feel it) that this is wrong – that this shouldn’t be so. When I realize that the very essence of my being can be so easily disregarded and mocked as something silly – still, after all this time – and that I cannot entirely be myself even among my kin. (NB: This may be too subjectively implied, vague and thus uncomprehensive to follow exactly, but I hope to make way for some significant points of self-discovery in the end.)

The thing is: I love my parents yet they do not understand me; they cannot read me. They are my closest of kin – they made me – but they do not understand me – which makes it hurt all the more. This may sound awfully reminiscent of a moody teenager’s voice speaking, but I have outgrown that teen; I know myself more than I did then. I know that this feeling is not ‘just’ the cause of a coming-of-age, hormone-charged fad. It has been brewing for a long time, never building like a snowball of anger and bitterness but simply just there; a constant sense of displacement, of a wire snapped.

They don’t understand why I seek away; why I seek elsewhere than where they are, because that crucial connection is missing. And if they do not understand or cannot read me by now, I don’t think they ever will. It saddens me because I thought I had shown myself; that I was as close to my developed self as I could be by now – or, at least, that their love for me would have shown them my heart and mind by now. I know; you can never truly know what a person thinks or feels, but isn’t the idea that you’ll get to know and learn about them along the way? Apparently, that isn’t the case with my parents and myself. It seems we are always meeting at cross-purposes no matter how well-meaning our intentions may be. I try to reach them, yet they pick up the wrong clues and mock those they have found, throwing away precious chances to come to a greater understanding. I don’t know if it is their embittered hearts that have no more room for such tender dealings or if we simply have very, very bad timing since we continue to go wrong of one another. My mother misinterpret and my father misunderstand. Not in any necessarily big, dramatic way, but in the undercurrent of every benevolent interaction or passionate discussion lies the risk of misunderstanding simmering and waiting to attack and screw us up. I think my parents feel it as well because they make sure to trample down every aggression and passion, even positive passion and conflict, or judge it as misplaced or misleading, fearing it will set off a potential avalanche they wouldn’t know how to handle, thus making it close to impossible to discuss important matters. I’m always exhausted rather than relaxed or exhilarated by their company. I cannot talk with them. We tolerate each other, and sometimes we barely do. I do not ask them to be like me (you can hardly demand everyone around you to be like yourself), but simply to understand me on an entirely basic level. Or just, for once, listen without making too-quick judgments or (mis)interpretations, nor make derisive or self-absorbed comments when I open my heart and mouth a little ‘too much’. Because of all the people I should be able to unburden myself to, uncensored, it should be my parents … Right?

As such I don’t mind being mocked by family since it has always been so, more or less; again, not in an evil-intended kind of way, but for the mere chance of poking fun of one’s antics, I guess. And I happen to have many antics! But I have accepted them because they are me. I have enough self-irony and self-consciousness of my shortcomings as it is; the shortcomings my parents already know, yet cannot help to continue to poke fun at instead of treating them with understanding and acceptance. After all, it’s healthy and constructive to be taken down from one’s own – sometimes – unconscious piedestal (in order to know you even had one in the first place), but there’s a fine line between laughing with you and at you; constantly doing the latter while excusing it as the former. I sometimes fear that I appear more arrogant and self-important than I feel I am (which makes me doubt whether I really am arrogant?!) and if it looks like I put on airs in a discussion when my intention couldn’t be farther from the case. It leads back to the ‘problem’ of being an INTP; that “…people think you argue because you have to be right, but arguing is just a part of your quest to learn”. But my parents aren’t simply ‘people’, right? They are my parents.

Maybe your parents were never meant to form any deeper understanding with you? Maybe this is an all too common, universal and perhaps even banal problem and I’m far too blinded or naive to have noticed it before? The problem of what parents ‘should’ or ‘shouldn’t’ be is perhaps as old as time.

But still something grates me. The world doesn’t revolve around me – I know – but among all people isn’t it your parents who should be the first ones to respond to you and celebrate you? If your parents can’t even see the development within you then who can? And what does that say about your relationship with your parents?

I find myself saddened and disappointed by the fact that they are apparently so blind to things I have learned to see now, because I have finally come to various self-realizations about myself and though these realizations may not sound like much, they are significant to me – despite the possible ‘selfish’ nature surrounding them. Perhaps that’s the impediment to our wrong-footing? These moments of self-realization may be barely visible to the naked eye – even to your closest of kin?

I cannot help myself: I have finally learned the art of learning to love myself; of celebrating myself as having come this close to a developed self; celebrate that I have virtues as well as flaws and that flaws can be good because it makes me human and that I can only learn and develop myself from flaws and mistakes, not from perfection or denying my flaws. I celebrate that I have an open mind, am willing to learn and understand (isn’t it wonderful to be human; to have this ability?), knowing I may never be fully ‘developed’ in mind or spirit but that I’m willing to grow and am damn well close to it (for my age, if that says anything). And the (self-)realization itself shows it, I feel, and makes me proud on a deeper, inexplicable level.

Isn’t that what life is about? Not so much being selfish but finding and loving oneself? Connecting with oneself? Forget the hippie clichés and pseudo-spiritual ‘life-inspiring quotes’ hanging on every branch for a bit (though they can be helpful). I’m no survivor of terrible, life-changing events nor hold some celestial spirit connected to the circle of life within or anything like that. I cannot speak for what one have or should have to endure in life in order to find oneself. Such realizations are your own and can show in the most surprising or even familiar of ways; from the outside or within, roaring or silently. And I can only speak for myself, being as human as any of you, and tell you what I’ve discovered for myself. And whether it may or may not be for entirely self-absorbed and pathetic reasons, which I’ll perhaps discover later in life and laugh at, so be it. Pathos is a part of man, after all, as much as ethos and logos.

In danger of sounding too holy and pompous after all, and, I may just write all this as much for myself (if not mostly) as for you, I would like to say that what is important is right now – what you have learned for yourself along the way – in order for you to take the next step, no matter how big or small. As long as it is significant to you. Of course, it’s tough if others (esp your closest ones) don’t see it as well, nor even try to see. Our self-image is not entirely self-made after all. But even if you discover the self-realization is somewhat off or misconstrued, at least you had some sort of realization (all your own); one that is important for your own self-image and -discovery right now, making ways for new and even different ones (of the world and the people around you as well), enabling you to learn from yourself, choose for yourself and accept yourself. Knowing and reaffirming your own ability to learn.

If that is not the first and foremost most important thing in your life; the love of thyself, flaws and all, keeping an open mind and willingness to learn, I don’t know what is.

*revised 3/7/17*

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Friendships and (de)pending relations

No matter how independent we [INTPs] feel or claim to be, everyone needs some sort of belonging or kinship. But perhaps unlike other, more common types, we don’t need it to be as physical or nearby. I believe we can easily form strong, lasting bonds in a more abstract or metaphysical way because of the scope of and close alignment to our inner world and imagination. And if the other part feels likewise, we already have a strong, mutual sense and understanding of our friendship.

Does that make sense?

I, for one, am no good at keeping daily tabs on my friends or being called upon all the time for immediate confirmation/affection; I find it rather stifling, actually. Some of my best and oldest friends I’ve only seen or heard from every second or third year (or longer) and yet, we fall right back into our old habits and familiar ways when we finally do see each other. Like putting on a pair of old, well-used leather shoes. Though it works fine for me and does nothing to lessen my sense of the friendship, I know this is not the most ideal way of maintaining friendships, since it is not entirely fair for the other part(s) if they do need a more immediate kind of friendship and close support and I’m just too dense to pick up this vibe. I usually let people be because I have faith they’ll manage just fine by themselves (just like I do myself; very INTP) until they need a listening ear. I’ve felt somewhat guilty that I’m so bad at picking up the phone first; I just hope they know me well enough to understand this – and I am grateful when they do call after an extended bout of silence, because that means that they do understand (I hope) and still choose to come back. But it really doesn’t come as a surprise that I have very few close friends, despite easily getting along with most people I meet. The whole ‘friendships are like a garden’-analogy is not lost on me, but like so much else in life I get easily distracted and tend to forget the maintaining part for longer periods. It doesn’t come natural to me as something I should prioritize and I know it must sound so entirely strange in the ears of most people. It is something I need to practise to become better at. A life project.

Basically, I don’t do the whole dependency thing well. When I’m not needed any longer, I accept and retreat until next time; expecting little to nothing in return. I’m easy to take advantage of in that regard, I guess.

I’m not very dependent on my family, either. I haven’t met many people who feel the same way; most react with amazement when I tell them this which I guess is a normal reaction and it’s just me being weird. A good friend of mine is very dependent on her family; so much that it actually has me worrying because I keep thinking that one day her mother won’t be there for her to talk to and what will my friend do then? Sure, she has her brothers and friends but I know her bond with her mother is extremely close and unique (she can hardly make a decision when shopping without calling her mother) that I doubt she will seek to try to be without it while her mother is around. Thus making it all the more harder when she one day inevitably isn’t … Right?

Understandably, I’m not the most obvious person to be able to understand this. My relationship with my mother is cool – at best. Cool in the detached way, that is. She’s an INTJ so that makes a lot of sense. I certainly understand my mother much better after I’ve realized her type. Let’s just say, INTJs are not the most warm-hearted of people. Actually, I’m afraid they are right down there at the bottom when listed from the most to the least warm-hearted types. They are mothers in their very own way, I guess (I really have nothing else to compare to). Independence and logic are core values in both our types, so that is what I’ve cultivated most of all throughout my upbringing. There are various way to teach independence and I have no clue how I would come off as an INTP parent, but in my experience INTJs are not the kindest in that regard. Mind, this is also a very subjective deduction and doesn’t have to count for all INTJs (mothers). From what I have experienced, you do not get emotional support in the sympathetic way one expects mothers normally give but in the rational, ‘reality-is-harsh’ kind of way. Don’t expect verbal back-up. They expect you to handle it by yourself, no matter your age or situation. Note, INTJs are not the best at handling emotional conflict in the first place, so they rather just stay out of it or intercept every now and then with a cool, aloof rationalization which can cool things down (practically ice things over) but is rarely an appropriate solution in matters of legitimate, emotional turbulence and distress. I never received any from my mother – other than the brief pad or obligatory hug. They believe they know what people think or feel and if that doesn’t happen to be true (which it, naturally, rarely is) they scoff and rationalize that people should just pull themselves together. Despite their brilliance and great skills of deduction, they don’t have a great understanding of or sensitivity for other people’s feelings or ways of living, thus paradoxically being rather limited in their POV. They cannot not judge. It hasn’t always been easy growing up under my mother’s stern, judging gaze, since I was a somewhat sensitive kid and still am. I’ve always been apprehensive to show any kind of weakness because I know how much she hates it when people show or give into their weaknesses. On the other hand, I owe almost all of my critical thinking to my mother; she’s always been there to give an alternative (and ultra-rational) answer to everything I relayed which I could take into my consideration and ponder upon. It has helped develop my own rationale and be critical of hers as well. I’ve come to realize how her logic differs from mine; that though I tend to waver from all the possibilities and various, logical outcomes in my mind, I prefer that compared to her sometimes overly black-and-white thinking where nothing is really good enough and where she always find faults in whatever logic you seek to establish. It’s exhausting. But I guess she finds my ‘wavering’ exhausting too.

After I left home, she calls me every now and then to get an update (a bit too often in my opinion because nothing exciting really happens in my life that often), but she could hardly be called a helicopter parent. I don’t know if she could be called a tiger mother, either. I feel she wants me to return the gesture (again, I’m no good at picking up the phone first) and be a bit more interested in her life now that I’ve gotten older, but that’s the one, essential thing that her teaching lacked: Genuine sympathy and warmth. I got the ultra-introvert-logical love package. The back-up I didn’t receive taught me many things but back-fired in a way that I simply cannot give that much in return than what I received.

I feel a profound need to become independent from my parents, to get away, to not return. I love my parents, but I’m afraid I just don’t like them and I sometimes suspect the feeling is mutual. Nothing is really wrong with that – despite how awful it must sound but hear me out – because it isn’t like we cannot function together; we still meet up at holidays, family gatherings and vacations, but there’s just something that hinders a closer relationship than the bond we share by blood (we will always stand by the latter). It’s like my relationship with my parents is as loving as it is, well, professional and detached. Not the most ideal relationship, but I’ve heard of worse family relations and I think you have, too.

I know, I haven’t mentioned my father much, but that’s perhaps because my relationship with him is close to non-existent, despite most of my clashes have been with him (but that’s also because my mum staunchly stays out of conflicts). We never really talk, though his interest in film and music has influenced me the most (again because my mother’s interest in those things is rather limited). He’s very sensitive and defensive and not the best conversationalist since he takes things too personally too easily, is a bad listener and not good at picking up irony, as well as having lived a rather spoilt, isolated life, so he keeps referring to the same experiences and builds most of his deductions on those. Not very progressive, but as a Feeler he has every now and then surprised me with a natural eye for details neither me or my mum notice. Yet, despite his sensitivity and fondness of monologues he’s rather tactiturn and never asks how I’m doing or anything like that (so I tend to respond with the same treatment, but I guess that works fine for both of us..?). Again, I do not think he genuinely likes me. It is as if he sometimes detaches himself completely from the immediate world, so much that you have to shout and repeat things to him in order to get him to listen and even then he seems distracted. He’s prone to show his fatherly concerns and love through giving materialistic things and if one shows reluctance to accept them he gets easily offended. The few instances I’ve been alone with him, without the presence of my mum, have been very awkward because we most likely both realized how little we’ve really talked or even been more than civil to each other and that we literally have nothing to talk about. He seemed either rather sweet in a cowed, childlike way without the obvious, grating dominance of my mother’s presence, or rather destitute and closed-off and, unfortunately, rather fond of finding his solutions at the bottom of the wine bottle without being a raging alcoholic (yet close enough to become slightly unpleasant and volatile; a significant reason for me to dislike alcohol). We tend to – both intentionally and unintentionally – give each other some harsh word and tones (often we’re just projecting, because I do not genuinely dislike him) and neither of us are good at apologizing, so it can get pretty hurtful at times.

So you see? It could be much worse, I know, yet, I’m not overly excited to go home for the holidays.

Still, despite their blind spots, both my parents are interested in politics, food, culture and travelling, given both me and my sister lots of experience and material to cultivate our own interests in life. I’ll be eternal grateful for that. Also, the older I’ve become the more I’ve realized how hard it must be as a parent to be less and less needed. They’ve taught me everything they could and now I’m so fully developed in my own mindset and opinions that I’m critical of theirs in a different way than when I was a hormonal teen. I often clash with them because of that and we are all still learning to accept that we differ on subjects that weren’t relevant before when I was a kid. That I have a right to refuse their offers of support when I feel I can do things myself, though that it is never a refusal of them as my parents, and that I, in return, should be more compliant to commit to various family responsibilities out of common courtesy and tradition.

Actually, the closest bond and sense of unspoken kinship and understanding I feel with another person is with my sister. I feel there’s something about (blood-related) sisterhood that cannot be explained or said in words. It is just there. And deeper felt than with one’s parents. At least in my case. Of course, even sisters can fall out with each other, even beyond repair (has happened on both sides of my family, ironically) which is one of the saddest things that can happen in life, in my opinion.

“Never let that become us,” we say to each other again and again, and I hope it never will.

*revised 18/7/16*

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Oh so uncomfortable

Picking up from my weakness, my inferior function (Fe) as an INTP; summarized:

Fe seeks social connections and creates harmonious interactions through polite, considerate, and appropriate behavior. Fe responds to the explicit (and implicit) wants of others, and may even create an internal conflict between the subject’s own needs and the desire to meet the needs of others. Fe drives the INTP to desire harmony in community. At their most relaxed, INTPs can be charming and outgoing among friends, or when they have a clearly defined role in the group. When under stress, however, INTPs can feel disconnected from the people around them, unable to use their extraverted Feeling to reach out to others. As their inferior function, Feeling can be a weak point; when threatened they will hide behind a wall of stoic logic. This can lead them to bottle up their emotions to preserve reason and harmony; but a failure to deal with these concealed emotions can lead to inappropriate outbursts. (via Wikipedia)

I’ve never been in love or had any romantic experiences, I’ve no great faith in marriage and I find compromises a necessary evil I would like to try out (or have to try out as society demands) but don’t think would fit me very well. I sometimes think I’m too independent to ever give myself to another human being. Maybe too independent for my own good …

Though I’ve never been in a relationship, I reckon it would be much like what David Keirsey describes accordingly to Rational Role Variants (which, in the case of INTPs, is ‘the Architect’):

“Architects take their mating relationship seriously and are faithful and devoted – albeit preoccupied at times, and somewhat forgetful of appointments, anniversaries, and other common social rituals. They are not likely to welcome much social activity at home, nor will they arrange it, content to leave scheduling of social interactions to their mate. If left to their own devices, INTPs will retreat into the world of books and emerge only when physical needs become imperative. Architects are, however, even-tempered, compliant, and easy to live with – that is, until one of their principles are violated, in which case their adaptability ceases altogether. They prefer to keep their desires and emotions to themselves, and may seem insensitive to the desires and emotions of others, an insensitivity that can puzzle and frustrate their mates. But if what their mates are feeling is a mystery to them, Architects are keenly aware of what their mates actually say and do, and will often ask their mates to give a rationale for their statements and actions.”*

When I’m on a rare occasion is personally confronted with this failed/untried aspect of my life, I bridle and hide. Personal experiences with sex and relationships are some of the few things in life that makes me genuinely uncomfortable to address, whereas many find this very natural to talk about. Everyone seems to expect that you have some experience in this and find it highly unusual if you haven’t. That it has something to do with your character. That it is my own fault. Yet, how can it be my fault? Society has become more and more sexualized and we’re being sexualized from such an early age, the normative way of thinking is that, ‘naturally, you must have tried some of it’ before you’re even 20..! Jeez. It’s not like it’s a grocery list, you know? How can you possibly condemn or judge another human being for things we cannot control. I cannot force myself on somebody or force somebody to like me. Certain things happen when they happen, okay?

Already, I’m instinctively trying to draw this to another and more abstract and objective level; distancing myself, not just in self-defense but because my brain naturally tries to decipher a more general problem within society concerning this.

Ironically, few are willing to discuss out of the heteronormative sphere. It still makes many uncomfortable, and, of course it does – we still have such a long way to go before we all can be comfortable about this. I have no grievances about questioning and discussing sexuality and gender, but I’ve discovered those subjects are still very tender when we’re down on an entirely basic, everyday level, even in such a tolerant, modern country as my own. For instance, people are still (naturally) confused about my gender/sexuality at times, I think, thinking I’m lesbian or something else (I don’t know), though I’m entirely straight and couldn’t be more confident about my sexuality as such. Funny, they never ask, they just presume (I think I see a theme here). I should be flattered but when people always presume and never ask, it starts to leave a bitter-sweet taste in the mouth. ‘Then do something about it!’, some might say. Like what? Not being myself? Being someone else? One you would expect me to be..? Or how about ‘putting myself more out there’? (Yuck, hate that sentence!) I refuse to dress or behave according to any heteronormative expectations about ‘how to attract the opposite sex’. Bleah! I have no intention of dressing up for anyone but myself, and if people don’t find me interesting, well, then they are not the right people.

Yet, scaringly, I even find myself sometimes thinking it is weird for a 25-year-old having none of those above-mentioned experiences. Just writing about it makes me uncomfortable. Huh, you should see me actually trying to verbalize it to someone. We’re talking major mental block, tongue-tied, lots of squirming and red face/eye averting alert. OK, so, either I’ve just been unlucky with meeting the right guys (it’s not like I can’t to talk to them; actually it’s the opposite quite often) or I send them some special vibe that tells them ‘I’m sorta the cool tomboy/sister type you can totally hang out with and discuss weird nerd stuff with but wouldn’t otherwise think anything of’…? Huh. I guess I do not give off the traditional, feminine kind of vibe – but what the fuck is that, anyway..?! Some institutionalized, heteronormative way of categorizing what is female and what is male when these categories don’t even exist but were just made up long ago when people didn’t know better..!! Ugh, it makes me so angry when I think of all those who suffer under these restrictive ideas – well, all of us do, really, even if we don’t realize it. Which is exactly why it is a problem.

So, now we’ve ended with the aggressive defense mechanism. See? I cannot help totally overanalyzing myself. I honestly don’t know what I get out of this – other than I get to vent and whine. My generation do so love to whine, after all, they say.

tbc

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