o·ver·whelm [oh-ver-hwelm, -welm]
verb (used with object)
1. to overcome completely in mind or feeling
2. to overpower or overcome, especially with superior forces; destroy; crush
3. to cover or bury beneath a mass of something, as floodwaters, debris, or an avalanche; submerge
4. to load, heap, treat, or address with an overpowering or excessive amount of anything
5. to overthrow.
I often use the word “overwhelmed” when I’m feeling completely stressed. Not a little stressed, but stressed to a point where I feel frozen with fear, anxiety, anger, indecision, etc. and I stop moving forward with anything because I don’t feel like I can breathe.
My late therapist, Marilyn (RIP *tear*) told me that it takes 6-12 months for you to see your new partners “ugly.” She’s talking about what you KNOW you’re getting after the courting phase wears off and you get to see what they’re really like. Don’t get me wrong – they’re probably still charming and seem almost perfect or you wouldn’t still be with them, but it takes that long for them to let their guard down and feel like they can be themselves and they can show that side of them they don’t advertise while looking for love.
I saw his major flaw back in late spring. It’s a big one. But, more than what it was, was that he wasn’t up front about it at first. I know what my uglies are. I was up front once our relationship started turning from friendship to something more serious: I cheat and I get overwhelmed.
The first one was understandably concerning, as it would be for most people.
But the second sounds manageable – Nat gets overwhelmed. She’s a single mom with kids and pets and a career and a boyfriend and her own interests and friends… anyone in her position would get stressed out sometimes.
Yeah, but it’s more than that. And it’s hard to explain because of how it affects so many areas of my life.
Well, TAG saw what I meant this weekend.
It’s never pretty when I crater. It’s even embarrassing.
The tears, the stand-off-ishness, the pity party and the “thousand-yard” stare.
Then the admission that I can’t do “it.”
I do not have the emotional capacity to do “it.”
And he never wavered. He gets it. He was solid as a rock.
His reaction drew me closer to him than even I could have anticipated.
Sex with someone you care about takes work. Not in a bad way, but because you care about them and you care about the experience. And the caring is an emotion I just don’t have room to accommodate when I get like this – cuz I’m maxed out. I have no fuel left in the tank for extras because I can barely make it through the parts of my days that are required of me.
But, sexual encounters with strangers are almost effortless. I don’t care about them. I don’t have to talk with them afterwards or worry about what they’ll think of me. They aren’t going to need me to take care of them or listen to them.
They will not be a drain on what little I have to give.
And where sex with someone I care about will help me release some of my pent up anxiety – an encounter with a stranger will offer an oxytocin/adrenalin high that can not be matched and lasts for 2 days.
So the angel/devil self-talk starts:
“But I can’t DO that anymore.” “But why can’t I?”
“I am not that person anymore.” “Then who am I?”
“I don’t want to risk what I have.” “But I love the adventure.”
“Why is this so hard?” “Because you’re denying who you really are.”
This is my ugly.