“Could just be a fear of commitment. But you should know about that,” She said.
I blinked. She caught it.
”No? You don’t think of yourself as a closed off person?”
-“Oh I know I’m a closed off person, but I never thought about it as a fear of commitment.”
-“Really?” I could tell she was worried about hurting my feelings. “I just heard it’s a common thing with, you know… people who lost a parent at a young age.”
When it was first brought to my attention that I tend to keep people at an arm’s length, I shrugged it off. “I am an open book,” I said, and in a way I still believe that. You can ask me anything and in 95% of the cases I’ll have my answer ready for you, since I tend to overthink stuff and am always trying to figure something or other out.
“But I have to ask.” Yah. Can’t answer unasked questions. And I turn around and stroll on, comfortable with the idea that I am a stranger to my girlfriend.
Despite wearing my heart on my sleeve, it would appear that I am uncomfortable with people seeing me for who I really am. Or so they assume- to me, it appears like I am no one but myself and if people can’t see rhyme or reason in that, maybe they just can’t relate.
It’s true that either is very convenient for me, though. It allows me to do my thing without criticism or influence. It might be the path of least resistance, but also happens to be a lonely one.
Could it be that simple, though? The fact that I am so hesitant to reach out to someone, a simple fear of commitment that springs from losing my mother? It would fit the diagnosis well, and I hate when that happens. The idea that my psyche is summarized in a book somewhere is nothing short of insulting to me.
It made perfect sense when my friend said it, but now that I think back on it, I can’t seem to find a direct physical connection. She knows me better than most other people and she said it with such casual certainty, I wouldn’t be surprised if she hit the nail on the head while I’m just not getting it.
But it fits, right? My throw-away, short term relationships in both professional and private life? This wall that I can’t seem to break when I really want to? But, don’t I commit to things when I believe in them, regardless of their duration?
I hate to say it but I fit the description perfectly. When I think about how the life of a commitment-less young man would go, it’s a one-on-one match with mine. What I lack are the inner workings: How would the loss of my mother influence the logic that I maintain, and if it’s all so damn obvious, how come it eluded me so easily for 20+ years?
Assuming the hypothesis true, the simplest solution would be that I am afraid to lose people that I let close, just like I lost my mother. Occam’s principles suggest that this would be the most likely thing to be true. But then it would be happening on a smaller scale, like when I’m bored and feel like calling a friend but don’t, or when I would like to get to know someone better but won’t take the first step. The reason why I freeze then, would be that I am afraid that I would lose these people somehow?
What does that ‘’losing people” translate into, inside this smaller context? Am I so afraid that they’ll refuse to come, or give me the cold shoulder?
It isn’t the first time someone asks this question: What the worst that can happen, when you approach someone and try to strike up a conversation? All they can do is ignore you, right?
I remember my answer the first time: It’s not about being turned down, it’s about being targeted and attacked. If only the worst a girl could do was ignore me, I’d be a happy camper. But no: She could turn to her friends, point, and exclaim, “Look a this loser. So lonely and desperate that he feels compelled to talk to strangers.”
The real fear lies in the vulnerability when approaching someone. The admission that yes, at this moment, I am lonely and desperate enough to come and say hi. This opening up, this showing of my inner self to someone who can hurt it, seems a phobia of some kind. I am so incredibly afraid of their response, that I become afraid of the question itself.
It’s different when external attractors are in play. Some tangible reason for me to open my mouth, so that if I get ridiculed, I can shrug and blame whatever foreign reason I had to come closer.
This is why I connect with people so easily on the job, or to couchsurfers: Once that first defenseless moment is bridged, I can talk to people all I want- Until it’s time to admit a crush or I want to be close to someone. Then we move back to square 1.
I’m not so sure this relates to an actual fear of commitment. As a matter of fact, it seems like it transcends it. It shows in my poker face when I am happy and excited about something someone is offering me (like in the negotiation for an apartment or job), and in my lack of confirmation that yes, I am happy my girlfriend is coming on holiday with me. I just assume she knows and leave it at that. Does that have anything to do with commitment?
Are this ‘vulnerability’ and this ‘commitment’ actually the same thing or is this like that new-age teacher once trying to tell us that every single decision came down to “fear” and “love”? It this overgeneralizing or am I being blind to the link between the two?
It’s important to figure out, because if I could ever get over this fucking ordeal that’s been holding me back for a large chuck of my life.
If it seems like I’m desperately trying to dodge a psychologist’s label, that’s probably because I am. But no one has more authority over my mind than I do, and I earned it with years of second-guessing everything that I do. Regardless, I’ll have to think about this some more. Funny how the slightest of input can trigger a mental landslide. I should ask more of it later.