So when Saleena died and I started thinking about the people I didn't want to miss the chance to connect with, I emailed Evelyn a very short message saying that I hope life is going well for them, and then a few days ago they replied and asked to hang out. I said okay and gave them options and they chose this past Wednesday. I then put it out of my mind as much as possible so that I didn't fret or get my hopes up -- I think subconsciously I was expecting them to cancel. But they didn't!
They came over and we talked for about 2 hours. It was a meaningful conversation though uncomfortable in several ways. I initially asked them what they valued about me and they talked about my integrity and justice-minded-ness and how they wanted to create a project for social change with me. I told them that their response worried me as I feel like they are interacting with me like I am an idea and not a person. They responded "that is a fair concern" which was both reassuringly honest and dismayingly fear-affirming.
I said I am not looking to start a big project right now as I am in need of a rest period after years of financial trauma and lots of loss, and I don't know how long I need this rest period to be but I am guessing at least a year. What I want to create right now is a web of connections which are mutually nourishing, healing, and growthful. I added that I don't find it nourishing to be admired or to be an inspiration to others. They listened and seemed to take in what I was saying, and they apologized for not being nourishing when we were together before.
They expressed that they didn't feel disappointed or distressed that I don't want to start a project with them right now, which is good but that left me again with no answer about what they are looking for (I don't think they know). They said they didn't want to make promises and I emphatically agreed that I don't want them to make promises. That was part of the problem last time: it was part of the reason I got so hurt and I think that the pressure of those promises was part of the reason they just disappeared. I do however want to know their desires and whatever factors they are aware of that influence the experience of those desires (so I said this).
They asked me if I consider them trustworthy and I said I trust them not to intentionally hurt me, and to try to avoid hurting me by anything I specifically mention as hurtful but I don't trust them to know what is hurtful and not do it without me mentioning. I didn't mention it at the time because it didn't occur to me but I also don't trust them not to cut contact, which is something I find hurtful and I know they are aware of that.
They asked if I think they are a reliable source on their own self and I said no. I think to be that, one has to practice self-awareness daily and when you are in crisis, many times you cannot be self-aware: for survival you have to shut down to your own thoughts and feelings. And I think they have been in crisis as long as I have known them. They were unsurprised that I said no, but taken aback by my reasoning as they hadn't thought of themselves as in crisis but on reflecting, think that that is probably true.
We talked a lot about managing the impulse to give the people we love whatever we think they want, even to a damaging extent. I touched on How Loss of Alone Time, Constant Caretaking, & Medication Stigma Almost Killed Me and how constant caretaking without sufficient rest is damaging for caretaker, caretaken, & the relationship... "it is ultimately damaging for the person who is being taken care of. Coming to depend on someone for your needs and then having that ripped suddenly away when they run out of ability is profoundly destabilizing and terrifying, and it is inevitable because no one has infinite energy or the ability to give endlessly without being nourished enough to refill. If you love the person you're caretaking and you want to help them the most you can, you MUST take care of yourself. Otherwise you are setting them up for a really, really awful crash (and setting yourself up for the same)."
They talked about how they felt that part of the problem last time for them was getting distracted with sex, and I couldn't relate because I know I wouldn't have wanted sex if I didn't feel emotionally connected, but I understood that they probably had a different experience. I told them that I wanted sex and romance with them but that I could turn those desires off if they wanted, and they said no. We talked around it for a bit and I felt like they were hinting at wanting a nonsexual relationship but weren't admitting it even to themself, but the more we talked about it the more I felt like that was the case. So I told them that I wanted to be romantic but not sexual with them at least for a while -- if they liked that idea -- and they enthusiastically said yes.
Later we talked about it more and they clarified that they do in fact want to be nonsexual with me (I was relieved for them to be direct with me) and they also want to be romantic. I do think it would be a good idea to keep sex off the table for a while because sex tends to make me impatient but I'm a bit concerned over definitions because the line between sex and romance gets muddy for me. Especially when it comes to kissing, as I can and have had orgasms purely from kisses. To maintain a non-sexual demeanor will require putting some really strict limits on romantic stuff. It's easy to do when the other person doesn't want sex because then I just don't want it. It's much MUCH more difficult when the person is ambivalent.
Then this past weekend Quinn hosted hearts and crafts and Evelyn attended. I felt as awkward as an eel on land, but later I realized that a lot of that was fear that Quinn wouldn't want to be my friend anymore if Evelyn and I were dating. But Quinn felt, if anything different, more warm and friendly than before. Hearts and crafts is so important to me and I feel really protective of it. I want everyone to stay feeling wanted and belonging (which I hope they feel now) and so I'm definitely not ready to introduce any new people to it. I sent this to Evelyn:
btw, you had mentioned wanting to attend more hearts and crafts, and I said I need to check with people which is true but is not the first step. Right now I feel wary of how things may develop or falter between us, and I'm very protective of hearts n crafts. I'd say it's my second most important relationship right now, after Topaz. So I need to feel like I can depend on the me-you connection before I am comfortable asking for everyone to expand the group. I'm fine with you attending whenever Quinn hosts but other than that I want to wait, because the idea of us-ness crumbling and that poisoning h&c is horrible. Does all that make sense? I am worried that this will hurt your feelings but I want to be totally honest and open with you.
They responded saying, in gist, that they understand and support my choice, and I thanked them and added that I do very much want them to be part of it, but I can't risk hurting my people by proxy again. In the past I have encouraged my friends to invest in people and then had to watch them suffer when the people I vouched for hurt them. Before I even passively encourage people to invest in someone now, I need to ask myself if I have proof that this person is more likely to be net-positive for my friends rather than net-negative. And if I have no proof I have to wait.
It is EXTREMELY weird to be the more-cautious one for once. I'm always jumping in the dark water and THEN checking for leeches but this time I'm doing a careful sweep with one limb and inspecting it as I move from spot to spot.