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Flying Under the Radar

This past week was difficult for me. Or maybe I should say the whole month has been difficult.

I wonder if anybody is aware of the fact that relationships with the people you love can sometimes be complicated and downright hard. Can I see a showing of hands? Anybody ever had that thought before?

I've been trying to "fly under the radar" this month. Trying to keep out of everybody's way. Trying not to bring other people down. Trying to keep most of my bad feelings deep inside me.

My counselor tells me I'm paying a high price for doing that. Something about how all those bad feelings can start eating away inside and turn into depression.

So, I've been trying to let some of those feelings out. Easier said than done, at least for me it is.

Sometimes when I'm deep in thought or worried about something, I get really quiet around Matty or other people. When people start asking me if I'm okay, I know I'm not doing a good job of hiding, or flying under the radar. Matty, for one, has a radar system that's super sensitive.

Or I do the opposite and put on a happy face. This one works a little better than getting quiet and withdrawn, but it takes a lot more effort and I can't keep it up for as long.

My counselor (who also seems to have a super sensitive radar system) got really direct with me in a session right before Father's Day. He said I seemed to be dodging his questions about some of my "real feelings" when he asked what my plans were for that Sunday.

So since his radar spotted me, I couldn't pretend there was nothing there. He never let's me get away with anything. It was hard because I wasn't sure what I was feeling about some of it and then it got me a little nervous to admit I was feeling more sad than I realized. It's damn hard to look at all this stuff because some of it is the first time I've gone into this much detail. I think it's helping me be more honest with myself which is good but still not easy.

Then I had a session where I walked in his office, sat down, and didn't say anything at first. I just sat there and waited. And he just sat there and waited, too. I think his radar was getting some signals that something was in his air space and he was trying to study the instrument panel.

I was sitting there for about a minute or two, but it really felt like an hour. When I looked up at him, I started crying. He just moved the Kleenex over to me and waited some more.

When I finished crying, I just looked at him like he was suppose to tell me what just happened or to do something to fix me. I can't remember his exact words, but he said something like, "I'm sitting here thinking you wanted me to see how you feel inside. Do you want to talk about whatever it is?" Then all I could do is start crying again.

I worry sometimes that people might not like what they see and leave me. My counselor said maybe I could start by practicing with him more. Letting him see more of my feelings. I can always go back under the radar whenever I want. He said I'm the pilot and it's my plane.

Remember that sentence at the beginning of this post where I said, "...relationships with the people you love can sometimes be complicated and downright hard"? Mark that sentence down, underline it, put it in CAPITAL LETTERS, and make it all bold.

There's no doubt in my mind that I love my dad. There's no doubt in my mind that my dad loves me. Is it unconditional love? Nope. We both have strings attached.

My dad has always had reservations about me, going back as far as I can remember. I wrote about it once in that post about My Dad and His Girly-Boy Son. Everything in that post was true, except that I left out some details I didn't want to share at the time. Talking about your dad slapping you and shoving you against the wall and calling you horrible names when he's drunk is not a pretty picture.

I guess it's pretty natural that I would have some reservations about my dad. It's a relationship with some strings attached. Or maybe a better way of saying it, it's a relationship I approach with caution.

As Father's Day was getting closer, I started having these dreams where everybody was leaving me. Trying to get as far away from me as possible. Right before I woke up, I was standing in this field somewhere all by myself. It was like one of those "end of the world" stories where you're the only person left on earth.

Am I all alone in the world? Nope. Not by a long shot.

Do I worry that people might leave me, including those who love me? Yep. I worry about that. I even worry sometimes that Matty might leave me, even though that's not based on anything that's happened between us. I'm trying as hard as I can to make what I feel be more realistic instead of living in fear.

So my dad wanted to talk to me this weekend about my tuition. If you remember, he told me a little while back he had reservations about helping me out with going to culinary school after getting my college degree. He said it didn't seem the same to him as getting a master's degree, which he had already said he would help with.

Each day that got closer to this past Saturday was making me more and more anxious. I started flying under the radar again and not saying much about how I was feeling. I figured out that my anxiety was not because he might refuse to help with culinary school. I don't expect my dad to be my personal bank. If he didn't want to help pay for culinary school, I would plan to find other ways (all legal) to come up with the money.

What I figured out was that "...relationships with the people you love can sometimes be complicated and downright hard." Every feeling I ever had about my dad started bubbling up last week. The money issue was just what opened the floodgates. This was about our whole nineteen-and-a-half year relationship -- all the good... all the bad.

Matty never left my side all day Saturday. I could tell my dad was not entirely comfortable with him being there while we talked about tuition. I could also tell he knew Matty was not going anywhere.

Nothing is changing as far as him paying my college tuition (minus some scholarship money I have). He asked if I was still thinking about "cooking school" (his words). I looked him straight in the eyes and said, "I'm not thinking about anything. I'm going to culinary school."

He sorta nodded his head and I know him well enough that he was biting his tongue and not saying everything on his mind. I just kept staring at him. Matty leaned a little forward and put his hand over mine. After a pause he asked if I had any brochures or websites for culinary schools (notice how he's now using the correct term). I said I would email him the URLs.

We'll see what happens next. I'm not talking here so much about whether he's going to help out with culinary school. What I mean is, we'll see what happens next in our relationship. This is not about the money. This is about our relationship. We'll see what happens next. 

I'm still flying some under the radar. But I'm trying to be more aware of my feelings and fears, where they come from, what they mean. And talking about all that with my counselor. 

I'm especially trying to let Matty know where my head is when sometimes all I want to do is fly under the radar and shut him out. It means the world to me that he believes in me and that I can work all this out. Or, as he says, that we can work all this out. That we're capable of doing this together. When he tells me that, I completely forget about the radar. All I want to do is fly high.
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