Article by Wendy McCance
I have an intense fear of relationships. Let’s just put it out there in black and white. I have always been best at superficial connections. I have an abundance of good acquaintances but few close family connections. I do have a handful of close friends, but my version of a close friends is probably much different from most.
I’m sure my statement sounds ridiculous since I have children and I’m married. Somehow, I am extremely close to them. It’s the healthiest and most normal relationship I have.
When I was a kid, my dad was a travelling salesman. I would see him a few weekends a month and we were never really close. In fact, growing up, I felt fairly isolated from him. My mom was around and I had a younger sister too, but, those were complicated relationships and we were never very close..
We traveled a lot when I was a kid. I had lived in four states by second grade. I loved to travel and felt that I was lucky to have friends all over the United States. The problem was, I was good at making friends, but didn’t know how to keep them. We moved so often I never seemed to get past that honeymoon phase with the kids I became friendly with.
By the end of my elementary school years, we stopped moving around. Staying in one spot truly tested friendships as I didn’t know how to hold on to them for long periods of time. I would get bored easily and I also didn’t know how to put in the extra effort to keep up those relationships that were special to me.
My poor skills followed me into the relationships I had with boys. I was always told that I seemed mysterious. Guys would ask me to open up and share my feelings. I had no idea how to do that. I protected my feelings fiercely as they had let me down many times when I tried to express myself at home.
I became that kid who had a lot of friends that know one really knew at all. I was very guarded and felt that I couldn’t trust anyone but myself. I grew up feeling that the only person I could depend on was me.
I rarely grew bored on my own and many times preferred to spend time by myself. I enjoyed my own company best and never felt the pressure to entertain. Books, art, music, swimming and biking were the things I loved most. The best part was that I didn’t need others around so that I could participate in the activities I loved most.
Years passed and I became involved with a guy who had a big family. It was the family that attracted me. I felt welcomed into the fold and suddenly I had the family I had always wished for. I also was around a lot of small children. It was then that I realized that I wanted kids of my own. Three children later, and it is the best decision I ever made. It’s amazing to be close to your own kids. I am grateful for having them. Unfortunately, their dad was not a good match for me and we divorced.
By the time I remarried, I had learned a lot and was in a much better place. I chose someone who was a much better fit. Thankfully, I paid attention to what I did and didn’t want in a future relationship. My family life finally feels loving, healthy and what I had always wished for.
I still struggle with friendships. Although I have friends I consider close, I don’t know any friends birthdays or other big events in their lives. To be fair, they don’t know mine either, but I don’t put it out there. I do poorly at reading the cues of a friend that needs some extra attention. I am not the best at reaching out and making plans. I am great in person and my friends mean the world to me, but I just have poor skills when it comes to keeping the ties tight.
I have realized I have an intolerance of uncertainty in relationships. I have grown up with triggers that make me want to put up a wall and run. It has always been most prevalent in my romantic relationships. It took years to figure out that I was essentially pushing a guy away when I was triggered by a fear or worry from my past. Many relationships went poorly because I wasn’t able to connect that I was making poor choices in who I chose to date and what I was willing to open up about. I finally realized that two damaged people do not make one strong whole person.
I still deal with many triggers and I still have times when I want to run. The difference now is that I am aware of what I am doing and how a situation happened. I can thoughtfully analyze what’s going on without making quick decisions that are just disastrous choices.
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