A couple of weeks ago I ate a meal in a diner type restaurant. I sat next to a party of three young men and a young woman. They started talking about an animated movie that featured, in some way, Dante's circles of Hell. As they talked about this subject, i realized that they were in no way attempting to "talk about" me at all. It wasn't that I didn't care whether they were talking about me or not, it's that I knew they were just trying to have a conversation amongst themselves.
In the days when my mental illness went untreated, I would often try to connect my focus on a female love interest with the people I encountered in my world on a daily basis. So, that means I would try to find some sort of connection between what these young people were talking about, in this case Dante's Inferno, and my situation with my love interest. Now, it would most often become a question of whether I was really in control of this line of dissociative thinking, or whether this dissociative line of thought controlled me.
I now see these dissociative encounters, and behaviors such as staring at attractive women, as attempts on my part to connect in some way with those around me. I've become very conscious now of the idea that I have somehow managed to finally get outside of this whole world of thought, and consequently, I think I've fundamentally changed how I interact with my world on a daily basis. At least, I'm pretty sure a lot has changed.
I think my efforts to separate myself from the women I'm attracted to over these past several years have allowed me to to get outside of this dissociative line of thinking that played such a prominent role in my life for so many years. Rather than trying to feel a sense of togetherness or closeness with women I desire by staring at them, or tying dissociative thoughts to statements such as, "It's hot," when a waitress in a restaurant brings out platter of sizzling fajitas, I'm doing a better job of actually seeing things from such women's point of view.
For the most part, the women in my world that I desire so much are unavailable, but at least I feel I've gained to ability to better see things from their points of view, so I have that. I think about this when I'm in a place such as a coffee shop or restaurant and conversations go on around me, and the idea that I may have lost a sense that I have a personal connection to such conversation, but that I've gained to ability to make more intelligent decisions about the women in my world that I can become preoccupied with. Oh, and I don't remain preoccupied with women in my world for long these days, I'm pretty sure.
When I went to therapists for so many years, a big theme they went to constantly was the idea that I should look to be in a romantic love relationship. I'm sure they see lonely patients all the time, and this is just what such patients are looking for to improve their lot in life. Those books by Dr. David Burns, Feeling Good and Intimate Connections, convinced me that this never-ending quest for a long-term, committed, romantic love relationship at every turn and juncture in my life that these therapist really tried to emphasize amounted to nothing more that a pitch for some cure-all snake oil. I think what I needed more was an ability to separate myself from those women that I so wanted to be in relationships with; to know where I left off and this person I desired began, so that I could then make more intelligent decisions about what I should do about my desires for and attractions to such women.