Justin du Coeur (jducoeur) wrote,
Justin du Coeur

Commitment issues

Pardon a moment of introspection, which may be helpful to folks trying to figure out where my head's at. This one's been teasing around at the edge of my consciousness for a few weeks, but I finally figured it out during a conversation this morning.

The first thing you have to keep in mind is that I'm a fair bit more broken right now than I probably look. I'm putting on a good front, and truth to tell I'm okay most of the time. Knock on wood, I seem to be largely avoiding depression, and life is toddling along. But there's a lot of broken glass in my head, and I'm still figuring out where the sharp edges are.

The one I finally puzzled out this morning is that I've gotten *enormously* commitment-phobic. I'm having fun socializing with folks (very heavily), but it's almost entirely spontaneous -- even a hint of having to commit to something sends me skittering away. (Probably closely related is that I've gotten almost entirely *reactive* in my social life: I'm accepting lots of invitations, but extending very few.) My reaction to commitments on a timescale longer than a few days is surprisingly visceral, almost fight-or-flight: just an incredibly strong "don't wanna".

It's not entirely clear where this is coming from. Some of it may be that real commitments come from the grown-up part of my brain, and that part is still quite deeply in shock. Maybe even more strongly, I'm simply out of the habit: after much of a year of living almost entirely reactively, juggling crisis after crisis of ever-growing proportions, I'm just out of practice in stepping back and making plans. And some is likely just plain emotional trauma -- a few too many instances in recent years of my plans and expectations ending in ash, making me just plain gun-shy about expecting *anything*.

(Side-note: curiously, this doesn't seem to be affecting work at all -- it's just in my personal life. Far as I can tell, the mental disciplines I've spent years building up at work are standing me in good stead. The difference seems to be that my ego is largely decoupled from work, quite intentionally: I've concluded over the years that part of being a truly *great* engineer is getting your ego the hell out of your code. As a result, work seems to occupy the same mental space as a game for me: a big, important, high-stakes game that I want to win, but a game nonetheless. And the result is that all the planning comes from the engineering side of my brain, not the personal side. I hadn't actually realized that I'd compartmentalized quite that effectively.)

Anyway, this shouldn't be over-interpreted, and I believe I'll eventually get over it: that's part of the deliberate project of rebuilding my head over the next 4-6 months. Indeed, the Movie Night concept is semi-intentional mental judo on myself: trying to assemble a very *small*, limited project that is likely to work and be fun, which makes a good stepping-stone towards learning how to plan my life again. But for now, please don't be surprised if I appear strangely reticent about planning: I'm continually having to force myself over mental hurdles in order to do so...
Tags: navel-gazing

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