Cleo Sunshine: Ice Queen?!?

The last week I’ve been really UPSET that someone who I considered a good friend called me a “Cold” person. This is the second time this person called me cold. I went into a twitter rant and a frantic text to @PhDubb about how angry I was at this accusation… Mostly because I don’t see myself as cold. I calmed down, but this title has stuck with me all week and I’m actually not over it. Maybe it bothers me the person who said it, or because I’m battling with if I am actually a cold person ..

Back Story: Accuser has known me since third grade. She and I weren’t always friends, but can you really say you had an enemy in junior high school? We were friends all through high school and ever since. We bonded over similar abusive childhoods and growing up in a small town. We remained friends while I went to college and she did her working thing. Our lives right now do not mirror each other, but are very different. But our friendship is still there. I like to think I always provide a shoulder to cry on. I am the godmother to her one year old son. She lives in a separate state at this current moment. Some will tell you she has a bad attitude, but I know she has a “good heart” and admire her fighter spirit. Do we see eye to eye on everything? of course not, but that’s not what friendship means…

Growing up, my grandmother wasn’t always the person in my corner. We argued. She named called. There is more than just physical abuse to a kid. Now I love her, as a kid, I wanted to run away from home. I fantisized about writing run away letters, but somewhere deep down I knew life wasn’t a disney movie. I probably watched Big Girls Don’t Cry one too many times. Anywho… Friend knows my background story: addict mom, not close to extended family. Grandparents being like parents to me. And despite my checkered upbringing, I don’t think I’m tarnished, jaded, shorted, or any of those adjectives people like to describe kids from my situations..

So, being the student that I am, I decided to look up some characteristics of a cold person to see if I fit the bill (you should never expect anything less…)

Psychology Today list these as some traits you would find in a cold person

  • aloof, apart, stand-offish
  • impersonal, disengaged, uninvolved; closed, shut-down
  • detached, distant, remote (these traits, like so many others on this list, actually characterize a schizoid personality disorder, which–at their extreme–cold people can sometimes be)
  • haughty, or projecting superiority (though, if these narcissistic features are present, they could reflect the individual’s outward demeanor, or self-deception, far more than how–deep down–they actually see themselves)
  • self-absorbed; insulated, passively withdrawn
  • emotionally unavailable, inaccessible, unresponsive, indifferent, uninvested
  • unfeeling, unemotional, affectionless; unsmiling–straight-faced (or stone-faced)
  • cold-hearted–as in “cold fish” or (even worse) an “iceberg” or “ice queen”
  • lacking in empathy and compassion
  • untrusting, wary, guarded;
  • angry, hostile; critical
  • excessively independent and self-reliant

I bolded the only two that I feel I can even relate to… and maybe I am justifying here.. but I can be “stand-off-ish” when meeting strangers. It takes a few minutes to warm up, but after that I am pretty open. I have partied with strangers, given strangers rides, sat with students in my office for hours making them feel comfortable. And excessively independent. I am independent because I have to be. How is that a flaw? What would I do to have a person I could be mildly dependent on. WHAT! Just imagine those Klondike commercials. Quote Teaira Mari, I need a sponsor!

I’m the person who says “sorry” to you because YOU can come to a party or because YOU hit your toe. Lacking in empathy I am not. I could sit here and tell you all the ways I don’t embody any of these traits, but the reality is in the writing. It’s in the people whom deal with me. It’s in the fact that even if I were “cold” as this person said, I have never turned my back on her. I do believe that when someone who is supposed to be your friend decides to try an assassinate your character it might be time to reevaluate said friendship. Back to the article… It also says that coldness should not be confused with introversion or avoidant attachment disorder (excellent point!) ..Where might this come from you ask? 

In such insecure, dysfunctional attachments, the label assigned to the primary caregiver (usually the biological mother) is “dismissive.” What this unfavorable designation refers to is the mother’s general unresponsiveness to her newborn. For the most part emotionally unavailable, distant, and withdrawn, she’s averse to close bodily contact and physical warmth, which leaves the infant’s bid for such essential nurturance routinely frustrated.

Accompany this rejecting stance, such mothers (however covertly) can also betray anger–and at times even open hostility–toward the baby, and particularly when the child is making desperate attempts to establish an intimate connection with them. That is, when the infant is intensely seeking attention, affection, or succor, they’re most likely to respond in punishing ways. And they demonstrate little tolerance for their child when the child is expressing negative emotions, particular their ownanger in reaction to being rebuffed.

On other hand, when the baby is engrossed in exploratory activity, this mother–peculiarly insensitive to, or imperceptive of, their child’s state of mind or feeling–is likely to interfere. And such intrusiveness prompts the child to feel violated, engulfed, or “suffocated.” In short, she’s unavailable and rejecting when the baby craves closeness and apt to behave invasively when the baby requires alone time. Attunement is a key concept in the abundant literature on secure parent-child attachments, and the dismissive mother is alarmingly misattuned to her all-too-dependent child.

So maybe I do have mommy issues after all? I have lived with my grandmother since I was six months old, and the stories I hear about my life prior to that point don’t portray the closest mother daughter relationships. In my childhood, my  mom’s presence was  scattered and it never ended with the response I craved. I visited more crack houses by the time I was in high school than a kid should ever have to see. I’ve reached out to my mother numerous times to only find that drugs have a stronger pull on her than the love for her own child. Couple those feelings with those I felt from my grandmother it would make anyone introverted. Or hesitant to overextend. But even with all that behind me, I don’t keep people at bay and I am always there for friends. I literally over extend myself and feel overly emotionally invested in the lives of my friends, probably why I am so hurt by this cold accusation from someone who I have been emotionally invested in.

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