Once again, the brain science presented in CPA has provided me with tremendous support and allowed me to be more understanding and supportive. My friend has just lost a loved one and is in deep grief, and this after going through months of work related stress.
I have been working through my own disappointment of the relationship not going the way I wanted it to and trying to allow our friendship to grow and establish trust and things are okay'ish, but I'm not quite sure of my role when it comes to being there for him now. Our interests in each other are out of balance. I care deeply for him, feel bonded to him and want to be supportive, but he says he doesn't need support. So I try to give him both space and offer what I can as a friend (food, listening ear, etc) without pushing at all. I want him to know I care and that I'm not going to abandon the friendship because he's irritable.
On the other hand, I don't want to trigger more stress for him. The hard part is, he seems to perceive anything from me as pushing. Reading up on the role of the amygdala and cortisol, I can see easily why he snaps at me like I'm a predator when I ask how he's doing. Knowing this allows me to stay present and not take his reaction personally or confront him on it. On top of all the stress he's already going through, I wonder if I'm still associated with relationship pain in general so maybe he reacts even more strongly to me.
As I give him space and don't ask anything too personal, he started to open up a bit and allow me to listen. He won't let me get physically close at all, which I also understand, since my touch in the past was usually with sexual intentions. I'm sad for him though because I can see that some loving touch would probably help relieve some of his stress right now. I'm hoping he's getting that from other friends, although I'm not so sure.
I'm treading as carefully as I can, but I'm finding it hard. I have already been feeling intense compassion after reading CPA and getting my neurochemicals back in balance, but now I'm feeling overwhelmed by it. I cried for two days and missed a full night's sleep after listening to him talk about what he's going through. I kept that from him of course, he certainly doesn't need that kind of 'compassion'. I think that I might be feeling this more intensely because we're not sharing physical affection that might calm those feelings a bit. Today I started back into feeling disappointed about our lack of closeness and intimacy, but again, reading up about the brain, I realized that my own amygdala is probably reading any of his distancing as rejection or danger based on our past and my relationship history. And even if I'm misreading the science, at least it took me out of my sadness and I feel a lot calmer now.
So I guess I just wanted to appreciate all the work that Marnia and Gary have done. I can see how the brain science and bonding behaviours could really help people in relationship to get through the many stressful events that we encounter in our lives together.