The Compulsion to Withdraw

Last night I asked a question of an online group I’ve been involved with for a few years… Can I come back? I wasn’t asking whether they would welcome me back, as I know they will. People become a part of the group, almost organically and then never really leave. Kind of spooky when I think about it. What I’d meant with my initial question was concerning my ability to stay around. I want to stay around, so why do I always disappear?

I never opened many threads on their forum, but I found one I’d opened late December 2007 saying that I would be a little quiet for a few days. I had just found out that my brother was getting divorced. Although I returned sporadically, I was never really back. I stared at that post for a long time. I want to go back, but will I stay? I set out to answer the question about why I disappear and realised I’d just about have to give my life story to explain why. I didn’t want to write a novel! The flood gates have well and truly opened, folks. There are lots of messy thoughts, but no lost words around here lately. In the end I cut out the 1000+ words that hadn’t even taken me into highschool and changed my question to… What happened? Much easier and more importantly… quicker.

One way I’ve always coped with distress/trauma is by isolating myself, withdrawing. I’d become a part of their community after a loooong self-imposed isolation. I’d written that post in 2007 and those few days have become almost 3 years. It began with me fighting a compulsion to withdraw again. In my distress, instead of turning to this community of people I had become close to, I withdrew and searched for distractions. I mistakenly thought, if I distracted myself until the worst was over, I could return to the group and everything would be as it was before. Obviously, that didn’t happen.

The distractions did keep me from total isolation. I played different games online, involving myself in groups associated with those. Every time I began to feel close to a group, I would withdraw and find a new distraction. Always I would return to this original group… popping in to say hi, then gone again to the next distraction. This was the pattern for the next year, until I found the game I was playing when I met Chris.I could have played the game with little interaction with others, but I was still fighting my compulsion to withdraw from people, so again I became involved.

I joined a group and as I began to feel close to them, I prepared to withdraw and move on. I found to my surprise I couldn’t leave. I’d fallen in love. I never thought about it until last night, that I began that relationship with an internal battle taking place… the compulsion to withdraw from people and the need to be around Chris.

It was a few months later that Chris ‘brought me back‘ from my detached state. Even then I still felt the compulsion to withdraw. Almost from the time that I had prepared to move on and realised I couldn’t, I withdrew more and more from everyone else. The inevitable happened. I deleted my game account and tried to run away. Chris said afterwards that he could see it coming and was powerless to stop me. The only person I said goodbye to on that server was Chris. Hmm, and one of the leaders. I did feel bad deleting the way I did. By that time there was no one but Chris on the server that I felt close to. I had withdrawn from everyone else.

Three days after running away I was back with Chris. Before I deleted I’d convinced myself that I hated the game and never wanted to play it again, but the leader had reminded me before I deleted of one of the things I loved about the game… effing up someone’s day *blush* Well, I never claimed to be a complete Miss Nice. I took a little time off and decided to begin an account on another server. I had decided that I didn’t really want to join any groups there, just play quietly and rest a little. I also became involved with Chris’s game on the original server.

I was in many respects a different person to the one who had begun playing that game. I was no longer the emotionally detached person I was before, thanks to Chris. For this I will always be grateful. I felt no real urge to get involved with the people on either the new or old server. I was emotionally burnt out and needed some rest. The old server ended and we played with them again. Over and over I would get involved and withdraw emotionally, get involved and withdraw emotionally.

The new server on the other hand I joined a group and slowly became more involved. Eventually becoming heavily involved with the leaders. Chris and I even fought over my involvement more than once. It was understandable. I was never very good at saying no without feeling guilt, so I would take on more and more work. Pfft, enough of the past.

Between the post to that original group and sifting through the things I snipped (safely sitting in a draft) I didn’t sleep. I felt I was on the edge of understanding something important. That something was finding out about the internal battle that had been taking place when Chris and I began our relationship. Compelled to withdraw from people while needing to be around him.

Sometime this morning as the sun was rising I felt a change occur. For the first time in almost 3 years the sun rose and I didn’t feel a compulsion to withdraw. The all-encompassing pain I’ve been feeling was also gone, leaving only sadness at what is gone.

This afternoon, I reposted to the original group, telling them that I’m back. I feel I’ve come full circle, except that I know I’m not the same person I was 3 years ago.

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