The Canary and the Ivy

I’ve written countless times about the difficulty that I have regarding interpersonal relationships.  I’m unskilled at, or unwilling to engage in the act of, providing for those that are my acquaintances, family, friends, loved ones, et cetera.  With every day and every therapeutic session that passes, I grow more adept at these skills, but I still lack.  I’ll never have those skills and the alignment of those that are not psychopathic when it comes to maintaining and enhancing my interpersonal relationships, but as I grow older, I can certainly be less bad at these things.  It may be my standard operating procedure to leave interpersonal relationships when conflict arises, having little patience for the flaws of others, but this too is slowly changing – or at least I am slower to pull the trigger than I was in the past.  I no longer know when to stay or when to leave.  The canary in the mine, checking the life signs of the interpersonal relationship, may have long turned to feathers and dust, but I still stay.  Or, she may be full of life and vibrant and I leave.  I no longer know my role.  I no longer know the role of the canary.

I’ve always preached restraint.  It is only as I enter my 30’s that such becomes a default choice rather than a memory to conjure in times of turmoil or unrestrained antisocial behavior.  I’m mellowing.  This is not a bad thing, but decades of unchecked narcissism and antisocial ways have left a void.  In many ways I am an adult child.  I never learned – partly due to inept familial figures and partly due to my own alignment – how to properly interact with others in a fashion that is not purely rooted in Machiavellian thought patterns and desires.  Therapy often is simplistic, explaining how to address those gaps in knowledge but providing little opportunity to act on what I’ve learned, so I flail.  Returning to the canary metaphor, I have the capacity to learn when interpersonal relationships are going well or not so well, but I do not know how to act based on her heartbeat.

Paradoxically, this lack of knowledge results in me, the narcissistic antisocial, setting myself up to be abused, misused, or neglected.  I voluntarily take off my armor, thinking that standing still or giving more will alleviate any weakness in my interpersonal relationships.  However, without steel between myself and sword, I set myself up for grievous wounds.  I stay in the house that was once grand and that once housed both valuable and person that could not be matched.  This house, through abuse and neglect, has become stripped of its beauty and ivy covers its walls, allowing no light to enter.  I do not know whether to keep my residence there, feeling nostalgic about the halcyon days that it once welcomed, or to burn it to the ground and rebuild anew with different materials, resulting in what may be an equally glorious construct housing new and invigorating figures.  I can’t hear the canary’s song as I once did before.  Is my hearing worsening or has the canary, unseen in the darkness behind the ivy that light cannot penetrate, died long ago?  Whereas there were days in which I abused and neglected, have I become the one to be abused and neglected?  Unsure if I am deaf or if the canary is truly feather and dust, I wander along knowing only one thing: that interpersonal relationships will always remain difficult.

Breathe
...And the Castle Crumbled

Comments

  1. Aurienne says

    Despite my nature, I find an undeniable beauty in forming relationships with others. I consider myself exquisitely lucky to be possessed of the emotional and whatever other neurological baubles allow me to be a bit of a romantic. It’s very stimulating, and nobody can shake me down and throw me into the back of a Black and White for driving under the influence of “new relationship energy.” >:D The only tricky bit, though, is that even as I do care for them I find I have a deteriorating effect upon them. My monstrous qualities still lead me to harm, even when I feel adoration – perhaps even more so because of it rather than in spite of it!

    The people closest to me, especially those who live with me – they get the brunt of my lost patience. Those times when I simply won’t pretend to give a fuck. Those moments where it becomes clear indeed that they, along with everything else that walks, hops, and crawls upon the Earth is beneath my fucking contempt, and should burn.

    .

    • Jessica Kelly says

      “My monstrous qualities still lead me to harm, even when I feel adoration – perhaps even more so because of it rather than in spite of it!”

      Exactly. Sometimes the greatest “danger” (to ourselves and others) lies in that place that we feel “safest” or most “accepted.”

      • Aurienne says

        “Sometimes the greatest “danger” (to ourselves and others) lies in that place that we feel “safest” or most “accepted.” ”

        Yes, that definitely rings true for me. I hate brushing up against my impulsive and compulsive limitations. “Do not be a catastrophic emotional hazard to your partner” sounds like such an easy, passive goal. . .

        • FNP says

          The solution to this for me is that I simply have no space that I feel completely safe in. The paranoid traits I have definitely have an impact here.

  2. Anonymous says

    Are you or do you think you might be in an abusive relationship?

    Is that what this means: ” I stay in the house that was once grand and that once housed both valuable and person that could not be matched. This house, through abuse and neglect, has become stripped of its beauty and ivy covers its walls…” Oryou talking about when you abused others?

    • Jessica Kelly says

      Both. Distance takes its toll, whether I am doing the distancing or another is distancing themselves from me. “Distance” in this sense can mean much more than physical distance, and may include emotional distance or distance as the result of maladaptive strategies in continuing or “enriching” interpersonal relationships.

      I have trouble hearing the heartbeat of interpersonal relationships; when cardiac arrest comes, it matters not why the heart stopped.

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