“Michael, someone blocked me and I heard you say that I shouldn’t back off. I resonate with what you’re saying, but I also feel nervous because I want to respect their wishes. Wouldn’t I be disrespecting their wishes to contact them?”
You can respect someone’s ability to make decisions without respecting the decisions themselves.
Obviously, this person isn’t respecting your wish not to be blocked, nor should they. You’re both autonomous beings, capable of making your own decisions.
Take action and let them decide how they want to respond. Whatever they do, you now have a chance to respond to that. Ride the wave, one step at a time. Stay in the present moment.
“My friends are telling me I’m acting like a creep. But, I don’t think they get it.”
Your friends are responding based on their own conditioning and trying to reaffirm a self-image they’ve learned from prior experience.
They’re not you and they don’t have your experiences. If your friends call you a creep, all that means is that your friends think you’re a creep.
Would accepting your creep status give you any freedom you didn’t have before?
“If I let myself be a creep, then I’d be able to act out of love rather than fear. I get that. But, doesn’t it still mean there’s something wrong with me? After all, I’m obsessing over someone who doesn’t want me in their life.”
You have to make a choice here. Do you want to be:
- an obsessive creep who acts out of love rather than fear, or
- someone who has the approval of their friends for never doing anything wrong.
The choice is yours.
Also, you don’t know whether this person “wants” you in their life or not. You only know they blocked you. Even if they said “I never want you in my life ever again”, that doesn’t mean anything other than that they said those words. People say things all the time, and change their minds all the time. Let them have their radical freedom to change who they are at any moment, just as you have yours.
“I’m nervous they’re going to retaliate if I persist. They might call the authorities.”
Your fear isn’t unwarranted. They may indeed retaliate. After all, they’re doing the best they know to ensure their needs are met.
Have some self-compassion here. It’s not a sin to let this fear dictate your actions. If you never acted to protect yourself, you’d be dead.
Again, it’s a choice. Do you want to act out of love or out of fear? There’s nothing wrong with either choice, but don’t fool yourself into thinking the other person is forcing your choice. You’re the one making the choice: love or fear.
“I heard that if you really love someone, you’ll let them go. How can obsessing over someone be loving them?”
Stop choosing your actions based on what you read in fortune cookies. Look at how you’re living moment-to-moment. What are your chosen values?
What’s driving your behavior? It sounds to me like you care about this person and about your relationship. Why are you labeling that an “obsession”?
“I’m labeling it an obsession because they clearly don’t want me in their life.”
You have no idea what they want. Outside appearances don’t always match what’s going on inside.
Stop worrying about them and worry about yourself. What kind of person do you want to be? What would that look like?
“But, I don’t know what to say to them. If I tell them how upset I am, they’ll see it as needy or that I’m trying to guilt-trip or blame them. If I tell them how much I care about them, they’ll see it as manipulative. If I try to empathize with them, they’ll see it as presumptuous or invasive.”
Are you actually trying to guilt-trip or blame them? Manipulate them? Invade? If not, maybe you should consider the possibility that they’ve got it wrong, not you.
But the truth is, you have no idea how they’ll see it. You’re basing your interpretations on two sources, neither of which is reliable:
- Your own imagination.
- The tiny amount of feedback they’ve given you.
Go take some actions in the real world and let your mind update its model of reality.
“What you’re saying feels right to me, but I still have some reservations. I mean, I DO want them to see my pain. Doesn’t that mean I’m trying to guilt-trip them? I also DO want them to talk to me, so aren’t I being manipulative by trying to change their behavior?”
Wanting someone to see your pain is not the same as wanting them to feel guilty. Wanting them to feel guilty would mean you want them to believe they did something wrong.
But, it sounds to me like you don’t want them to believe that. It sounds like you want them to feel compassion, not guilt. In other words, you’re wanting them to focus on your pain (for the purpose of establishing a human connection based in the present moment), not on how much they screwed up.
To answer your question about being manipulative…no, this doesn’t sound like manipulation to me. It sounds like negotiation. You’re making an offer and waiting to see their response. If they give no response, you’re taking that as a response in its own right and potentially making a new offer based on that.
Manipulation would mean you don’t care about what’s going on inside them: you only want what you want, and you don’t care how you get it.
It sounds to me like you care a great deal about their well-being, as you seem to be taking it into account at every single step. This is not manipulation.
“I think this person might have childhood trauma. I think my requests are reasonable, but I’m worried that I’m retraumatizing them by acting like a childhood abuser.”
Yeah, maybe you remind them of a childhood abuser. But, are you abusing them?
You can’t control what you remind people of. You can only control how you respond. Like I said above, it sounds to me like you care about them. You have an opportunity to act differently than their abuser did, even if your behavior is triggering them. This is healing, not traumatizing.
“There’s more to the story I haven’t told you. We were in a romantic relationship. I’m pretty sure they think I’m trying to rekindle that relationship, but the truth is that I’m ambivalent about that. I can definitely see how someone obsessing over wanting to get you back so they can have sex with you is creepy. But, I’m really just focused on the present here. How do I make them see that?”
It’s perfectly reasonable to not know what you want or to resist being put into a box by someone else’s narrative. You’re allowed to base your actions on whatever you want. Choose your values and take action.
You also don’t know how they’re seeing it. The story they’re telling may be a defense mechanism or shit test. Who knows?
It doesn’t matter. Focus on your own values and on your own actions. Let your mind write its own story and let their mind do the same. The future will take care of itself.