Relationships and Procrastination
I've been using this website for about a week now, and I think using the chat box has really helped me focus on minimizing unproductive, non-focused activities. But yesterday I had an argument with my significant other, and it has really been gnawing on me. My significant other is really frustrated with my procrastination to the point of it threatening the continuation of the relationship. Even so, rather than working on anything in particular, today I really wasted time -- watching TV, playing video games, chatting...
It seems that in this case, procrastination is a kind of rebellion or retaliation, but ultimately a self-defeating one. In my mind I know I should just keep working like I was doing two days ago, but I couldn't get motivated. Does anyone else notice this kind of behavior in themselves?
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I've been with my long-suffering wife for 17 years. I could have written this passage, word for word. We've been close to splitting up for years now — used to be other addiction problems, but now I'm largely free of those. I'm not, however, free from "compulsive hiding," procrastination being one of the ways I hide out from the big bad world. And now, it's my procrastination and unreliable earning that she (and me, truly) are so tired of.
Like journey said, demand resistance. And also, for me, there's a lifelong compulsion to be in control of, instead of at the mercy of, the moment when a relationship ends.
There's a deep assumption in me that, sooner or later, a friend, colleague, love interest etc will realize that they were wrong about me, that I'm not the person they thought I was, that in fact I'm a mess — that a moment will come in any relationship where the other person will reaiize they're fed up with me. I will see the decision in their faces, as they detach from and turn away from me. As they leave me.
In every relationship I look ahead toward that moment and feel, with huge and equal amounts of terror and rage, that it would be completely, utterly intolerable to experience that undefended. "Never again, no fucking way" is the thought, or something like that. And the coping strategy I've relied on for at least 30 years — and more and more as I've become older — is to seize control of it. I disappoint people. It's what I do, in my disease. I break promises. I let people down. I let myself down. I make all that happen.
It's a miserable way to live, but I am still stuck in this sick pattern.
If there is one thing about this website that I find so incredible in general -- and your comment to me in particular -- it's that there are other people who are basically living the same inner life as me. It's as if we are the same model car with two different owners in two different cities, but we came from the same factory with the same latent factory defects.
That said, 17 years -- congratulations to you and your wife. I hope that there were good times and that there will be in the future, too. In my case, I can never answer my wife's question: "what's your plan for our future??" and I never do the math to know whether we can afford something or not -- I just think, there's money in the bank NOW, so it should be OK. I'm pretty sure if my wife knew then what she knows now, she would have stayed away from me for her own good, but I know that she loves (loved) me or she would have kicked me out already. But she's younger than I am, so if I get out of her way -- i.e. leave the relationship -- she still has a chance to build a family with someone who is more reliable than me.
As for being in control at the end of the relationship, whether it is quitting a job or leaving a relationship, I'm like you -- I leave when it seems that the relationship is about to explode. Perhaps if I didn't quit at those times, we could have made the relationship or job work, but whether it is a desire to be in control, or avoid the pain of wanting something I can't have, or whatever, I'm like you -- I end it.
I looked into what Pro said about demand resistance. It will take me a little while to get my hands on it, but I'm going to read that chapter from "Too Perfect" about demand resistance that people were talking about 5 years ago on this forum.
The other comment (also from Pro) was about not knowing what you want being related to a weak sense of self. She said that demand resistnace and its manifestation as procrastination are an attempt to assert your existence.
I'd say that applies to me, too. As the youngest child with older, larger bullies in the family, the phrase "resistance is futile" would sum up my position in any sort of argument or confrontation, and my coping strategy was just to shut up and concede, or better yet, avoid having the conversation or confrontation altogether. Perhaps that is the origin of my hiding, too? Since we had fought the day before, yesterday when my wife came home, I simply avoided her by not coming out of my room -- "hiding" just like you described.
For me, I don't feel rage in relationships, just the terror, guilt and insecurity of knowing that at some point, I will let the other person down or otherwise fail to do what is expected of me.
But for all of this gloom, I still think there is hope. For one, I found this website, and if nothing else, it has made me feel I am not alone, and I'm not simply crazy -- there are other people who have the same challenges and I think we can help eachother. Another person on this website also told me that recent research about brain function says people can change the habits they've formed in their brains. In a sense, you can grade a dirt road to get out the ruts and the washboarding. It's just that it takes heavy machinery or a truckload of effort to do it. Whereas I can give up on a relationship, I can't give up on my procrastination condition, or trying to do something about it.
One final gratuitiously positive comment. In a conversation I had about how to live our lives, and achieving goals, a Zen monk once told me "process is everything." I think that means that I can have relief from my problem, not when I "solve" it, but when I am working on it. And I've got to work on this.
Thank you very very much for your comments.
I am sure it is some of those plus much more how to deal with pain of relationships, etc., test if the other person can accept me, etc., etc. but the energy drain is unbelievable. Between my 2 teens and husband, it is a miracle I am showing up at all. You are definitely not alone. Keep coming back. and thanks for sharing, I know how painful it is.
Yes, indeed. Read the stuff that PRO has posted about demand resistance.
In my particular case, I think it's stress/pressure related - the more pressure I feel, the more likely I am to procrastinate. I find it's much better to be kind to myself, and reward the behaviors that i want to create; rather than punishing bad behavior or thinking a lot of negative thoughts.
We won't be afraid of being sweet to ourselves. - Her Space Holiday