In season 5, episode 11, Monk (unbelievable detective who lost his wife in a car bomb assassination, further compounding his obsessive nature with trauma) can’t see that the killer du jour (played by Andy Richter) is trying to befriend him to stop him from figuring out he killed the victim.
Some things, you’re really not prepared to see until you’re in a different mindset, you know? And this episode has given me a glimpse at the earnestness and bare-faced vulnerability with which I approach new relationships (whether they’re friendships or romantic relations).
I truly have zero chill. But that’s ok! I just need to find like-minded people. I don’t have OCD, but ADHD and C-PTSD definitely make it super difficult to form (and sustain) new bonds. And to see his anxiety and uncertainty about how to proceed with this new interaction definitely resonated with me. Perhaps not to that level, but still, I saw myself.
The difference mostly plays out when Monk’s portrayed as over-the-top naïve, which is a bit hard to buy since he can so clearly see (ulterior) motives when he’s trying to solve a case. But it can happen. We can gullible. We can be naïve.
While we don’t get to see Monk grieve this (false) connection, I couldn’t help but think about the hit and misses I’ve experienced in the friendship department. They’re not as overwhelming or hard as they used to, but I’ll speak of the last one that deeply saddened me.
A guy I met when I still had Tinder. He and another guy were the two I had met right on the heels of my breakup, and so, I was devastated. I flocked to Tinder to force myself to interact with men because I was shocked at the fact that, despite of having my heart shattered into a million pieces, I still felt zero desire to get close to anybody else. And a part of my brain felt like it was sending blasting alarm signals, telling me I must socialize again. So even though I didn’t want to, I forced myself.
I was so convinced I had met decent men, decent folk (in these two). That maybe non-sexual friendships were possible. They both ended up in sex, only one of them “survived” it.
I was glad I had been able to go to bed with someone and not cry, as it had already happened twice, because the memories of my ex would fucking overwhelm my floodgates and I’d just sob thinking about him. I’ll take absolutely unsexy behavior for 400, Alex.
But afterwards, he wanted nothing to do with me (“the survivor”). Which, fine, I’m not putting my value in who wants to sleep with me or not.
But he wouldn’t say no, he’d say I absolutely want to, I’m just so busy right now.
I was in the middle of trauma therapy (phase 3), and going through it with my breakup (which we had talked about at length). I most definitely did not have the mental bandwidth to realize this person wasn’t interested, you know? So I would ask him from time to time, ok, when are we meeting?
And he also wasn’t saying no or in any way rejecting the nudes I would send.
I know. Shitty. And the worst part is, afterwards, I felt bad about it. To be even adjacent to what I would call abusive behavior in a man, left me breathless. I resented him so hard for that (not for not wanting to fuck).
But that’s not all.
After like a month or so, my lightbulb finally went off, and I said: Don’t worry about it, I’ll stop proposing this and sending nudes. He had the nerve to ask me why. I just moved on mentally, and assumed this was the time when he would fucking disappear into thin air.
But we kept talking. And he talked about wanting to be friends and I was so game. To hear someone wanted to be friends and not have the sexual element be a part of it (big indicator a guy is just bullshitting you to get into your pants, and I’m always away from this lame subset because if it ain’t love, I have zero impediments in quickly bedding a guy). I was elated. I thought he was someone I could fully trust.
And I’m a loving person. Caring. Affectionate. I would send him quick drawings I made of us doing something, or mocking something one said, or whatever. And without being prompted, he would tell me he wanted to come over soon and do whatever fucking activity we would talk about. So I believed him.
Except it was never happening. Again, that took me like a month to notice. I think I even dreamt about it, while I was taking a nap. And I realized he was just full of shit. I was so heartbroken.
If not into sex, it’s gotta be friendship, right? I’m broke, can’t help him professionally, like, I have nothing else to give except my friendship. And then if it’s friendship, I’m not insane. I can try to get together once or twice, and if it doesn’t happen, I settle for the online communication. He didn’t need to create other expectations.
And I’m a trusting person (which is a pretty interesting dichotomy when you have C-fucking-PTSD), so I saw no issue in extending my happiness about the connection and trying to talk to him and meet him to hang out. My ex had been my world, and I felt so lost without him. My world was my ex, my therapist from phase 2, and peripheral friendships. And while my ex was also, it turns out, a withholding asshole, he was never trying to talk about more closeness while shutting down. He pulled away consistently (only dishonestly).
This was my first encounter with the “oh yes let’s meet let’s get together let’s do this and that and the other” persona up close. I never make it far with people like that because they’re not my type of people. I can’t be spending my already short attention span in trying to figure out people’s intentions because their words don’t match their actions.
I’m obviously aware they exist -and abound-, I simply wasn’t used to feeling emotionally close to someone like that, and then realize it was a one-way connection. For a second there, I even feared him. My C-PTSD wondered what does this guy want -and what would happen if he doesn’t get it.
Current reigning theory is he’s a friend collector? A spare, in case his main group fails him? Or the time comes when he does need something from me? I don’t know.
But I have made sure now that he proves he is willing to invest some time in the friendship. He gave me a ride to the air balloon adventure, to pick up my new residence permit, to the hospital for my outpatient procedure. He’s always whining about gas and refusing money or sewing jobs (I’m decent with my machine). He’s quite impossible 🙂
Oh, and now he teaches me stats! Twice a week, online. Well, not now because he’s traveling, but he does. I’ll take him somewhere nice if and when I pass my friggin’ course. The deeply fearful part of me wonders if it’s normal (for me) to feel forever distrustful of people, because of what I’ve been through and the stress disorder. A part of me wonders if it’s any easier with people more akin to me -or just difficult in a different way, who knows.
It’s so important to have people you can rely on, but when you can’t move past certain behaviors they had or you’re just in a difficult moment in your life, everything feels more complicated. And there’s always the feeling of shame that you’re overanalyzing things so much when for other people it’s easier (but this is a fallacy, everyone overanalyzes things, they just may not be the same and the intensity or frequency could vary).
I do however keep noticing the absence in my life of a person to be enamored with. Whether it’s a friend or a partner, just someone that makes me rejoice and I can trust more deeply, implicitly. Someone that wants me in their life, and I want them -intimately- in mine.
Well, we can’t always get what we want, but we gotta keep trying to get what we need. If amazing people that want to connect at a deep level and that their values and MOs speak to me are unavailable, then difficult people that still deserve friendship (albeit forcing you to practice patience 24/7) because in some areas, they have your back as well, they are the next best thing.
I just feel so fearful of people, and “half-friendships” feel so hard (and threatening) to navigate. Does this person really have my best interests at heart? Can I roll with their difficult sides? Will I ever be not hurt that they don’t allow full closeness -even when I know it might be a personal issue instead of a me issue?
Helen Fisher is this amazing anthropologist that has studied love and attraction for the past 50 years, and the go-to authority on love research. Here’s one of her books dealing with personality types:
But the interesting thing about this personality type test is that I’m not just a Negotiator in matters of romance, but in general. I feel most seen, appreciated and validated when people open up to me and let me in (which is why I want to be a therapist in the first place), and I’m still blown away that some people could still consider a talk intimate and relaxing while not disclosing their innermost thoughts and feelings.
I’d honestly feel left out of that interaction, even if I could cognitively understand that I’m not being shut down (one of her examples in the book). I’m all about those inner thoughts.
And so, navigating half-friendships is really not my cup of tea, but when your body lacks theine, you’re not complaining whether it’s black or mint, you know? At least now I’m acknowledging my current situation, and hope to further outline what I can get and from whom -in terms of emotional needs-.
Today I missed cuddling with someone, but I could tell it wasn’t a sexual feeling, but mostly one of seeking an emotional connection. I miss having that, but I don’t know if I miss what I had with my ex? Knowing what I know now, how it ends, I don’t regret having felt good at the moment, but I don’t know that he could provide that for me now -nor if he would want to. A lot of things make him feel uncomfortable, and I’m too bored to find out.
I can still, however, feel that disconnect between me noticing I could expand my social circles, and then doing nothing about it. Motivation is a helluva drug, and I can wait till that drives me nuts, or I can try to understand where the gap happens, and what to do about it.
At least we are growing aware of the place we’re in, both academically and socially.
Wish me momentum! Eternally yours,