Man, there’s a novel right there.
For a long time, I’ve kept my husband at arms length. While lithium has improved and stabilized my bipolar, old habits die hard. It’s easier for me to block myself off, to remain remote and mute, to huddle on the couch and speak little for days. The interior dialogue in my head helps me forget that I’m not actually talking most of the time anyway.
Frankly, it’s easier to push you away than to try and deal with you.
Partners represent many messy, painful things. Trust. Love. Commitment. Responsibility. Things that sometimes, we want to forget. Things that scare us. Trust is a big one for me. I have a very hard time trusting anyone, partly from being abused, and going on to lose my mother, partly from my latent paranoia. There is a gated complex around my heart and brain, and very few people have access to it. I do not trust people enough to allow them the privilege of potentially hurting me. (It took awhile to get over this with my children)
Letting my husband in has taken time, and even now can be a shaky thing. I’m so raw in some ways, that trust equals exposure. If I hurt, it means it’s even easier for him to hurt me. So best act fast, suckerpunch, and move on. That way he can’t say or do anything that might break my heart. It’s the equivalent of people who break up with their respective other only because they heard that they were going to do it, and they’ll be dammed if they’ll let their girl/boyfriend do it first.
I push him away because it hurts less. It’s not so dangerous.
In my experience, things that I love go bad. They die. They hurt me. They betray me. The thought of willingly exposing myself to these things-it’s chilling, and terrifying.
Most of the time I’m not even aware that I’ve pushed him off, to the side, away from me. I’m just angry and hurting and while I might want his arms around me, his words soothing me, I’m fucking scared and stubborn and generally, irrational. He becomes the enemy, the thorn. I must protect myself.
None of this is fair to the partner who is at the other end of it. There’s even been times when I’ve been like “Divorce? AWESOME idea.” Those times are scary afterwards, when you figure out how close you’ve come to ruining everything in your life that actually holds any meaning.
Your partner isn’t pushing you away because it’s you, not likely. It’s what you represent, what you are. Hug them anyway. Tell them you love them. Break down that wall.
Let them push. But hold firm, and catch them when they fall back to earth.