continually returned to the topic of how to combine relationships and
disorders in this column, perhaps it is high time to address the topic
from the other end – making the choice to stay single in your
neurology (that muffled din you hear is the simultaneous cheer of my
past partners :)
from this side of the lawn prove more difficult; one quickly finds oneself
defending against claims of bitterness, sour grapes, depression, trying
too hard, or the right person not having come along yet. That last one
in particular bears mention. I’ve had some genuinely exceptional
people in my life who will be (or have become) the best thing to ever
happen to someone else now. I would have been lucky – many times
over. What most well-intentioned people seem to implicitly exclude in
their understanding of my recent decision is that I just really, honestly
don’t want to look anymore. Do I at times feel tempted? Sure.
So do alcoholics – that doesn't make THEIR abstention any less
important to everyone’s health though…
that I am attractive to some people. Some of them I'm attracted to too.
But I’ve come to believe I need to think about this on a level
beyond some glandular craving or genetically encoded drive, and to not
worry so much about what others may think. Ample evidence suggests it
would be the height of irresponsibility and recklessness to simply throw
caution to the wind yet again, cast a blind or minimizing eye to the
relationship destruction in my wake (!!), ignore everything I've learned
about my neurology, and just get involved with someone new. It would
be an unfair set-up to us both, for ignoring my better judgement in
the past has done a lot of damage.
has their boats rocked when they bring another person into their lives;
regardless of the love they feel, having someone else around involves
change, transition, compromise, and a number of other taxing events.
Could it be that some boats, given a person’s neurological load
of tics, obsessions, unregulated attention, impulsivity, and sensory
sensitivities, might just be designed to be one-person dinghies? If
so, then bringing someone else aboard means you will promptly capsize.
This makes any desire to have another alongside you suddenly irrelevant;
to invite them in is to consciously jeopardize not only yourself, but
him or her as well.
want to feel loved, and to enjoy the companionship of others. But being
as comfortable as I am with myself now seems to have helped remove any
'hard and fast' conditions on what will bring me to those goals, or
what those goals have to look like. Dr. I. M. Jackson said, “You
can never become what you want to be, until you accept what you are”.
It’s taken me a long time (and I’ve been dragged here kicking
and screaming) but I now accept that I function worse, don't like who
I am, and make other people's lives miserable when I try to force the
'traditional' relationship model. That doesn't have to be fair or desired,
but it IS the way it is. Facing that frees me to pursue new ways of
enjoying the companionship of others. I’d be fooling myself if
I said I don't need people in my life. I’m just learning how to
be smart (and responsible) about how 'people in my life' needs to look
given things like the structure I require in my day, the frequent time
alone I need, and the symptoms I deal with.
things change? Sure. Maybe my stimulation levels will lower over time
– research indicates that neurotransmitter levels decrease as
we age. Or, maybe someday it won’t be as important to me to fill
that precious-little space in my dinghy with my ideas for making the
world a better place. Certainly throwing my personal standards for career
and volunteer work overboard would clear the spot needed for another
to sit in my dinghy – in that way, my situation is due as much
to the choices I’ve made as it is to my neurology. But maybe I
won’t wait around pining for either of those days to roll around.
The alcoholic won’t find a healthier lifestyle by lingering outside
his old haunts. Neither will I.
if, at the end of my life, I feel that I was loved, loved others, and
made a difference then the means by which I accomplish those ends aren’t
so important. And if I did it 'my way' – if I bucked the odds
and found these things even though the 'normal' way didn't work for
me, well then I suppose I’ll just have that much more reason to
feel proud of myself.
B. Duncan McKinlay, Ph.D., C.Psych.