Back when I was in recovery, I remember a friend saying to me,
“Your demons truly come out in two realms: work and relationships.”
Oh boy, ain’t that the truth.
I mention this because I recently had a conflict (well, multiple) with a new flame — a guy who’s been very receptive to me, my struggles, and my truths while continuing to maintain his own humanity (perfect people, step aside).
This romantic endeavor has been happening for less than 2 months, and let me tell you, it’s been exhausting. Exhausting to confront time and time again my walls, my baggage, my trauma, my resistance to believing someone could actually like me (as opposed to the curated version of myself I’ve crafted in order to feel lovable).
Because in the name of truly trying, I’ve made the choice to be fully honest: honest about my sexual trauma, my frustrations with elitism (and how I see it reflected in him), my seemingly perpetual struggle with anxiety, insecurity, and depression. And it’s been like a powerful mirror reflecting back at me all the parts of myself I’d previously been able to downplay, ignore, or dismiss when alone with my thoughts rolling around in my head.
At the end of the day, I’m terrified. Of being seen and felt, but mostly of this actually working out.
I’m 30, and I’ve managed to be single for most of my adult life; I’ve prided myself on it, worn it as a badge of honor.
Because I believed I could either be fully myself or be in a relationship but never both simultaneously.
Everyday, I seem to find a trigger, a frustration, a quality that prompts addressing. It’s a comment he makes, a part of me he fails to see, a fear or insecurity that gets activated. And more often than not, I say something. But sometimes I don’t.
Because how many more long conversations will this guy endure? When will he realize that being with me is, well, exhausting. This is not a word he’s used or even alluded to, but it’s the one I keep coming back to because I exhaust myself — I find my sensitivity, my need for constant processing, affirmation and clarification quite obnoxious.
I tell him I feel depressed, and he tries to comfort me.
I tell him I’m anxious, and he asks me if I want to talk.
I tell him I need space, and he gracefully withdraws.
Can you think of anything worse than a partner who’s responsive to your needs?
Okay, that’s obviously rhetorical and steeped in sarcasm, but let me be clear: my ego is quite conflicted.
My ego likes predictability. My ego wants to keep me safe. My ego knows me as the one who believes no one will ever actually get me.
So what the fuck is this guy doing proving me wrong?
The thoughts start to spill in, the ones that encourage me to disrupt, disconnect, wreak havoc in any way I can. I can’t tell if I’d prefer him to surprise or disappoint me.
So I wait. I refrain. I don’t send the inflammatory text. I don’t make the intentionally hurtful comment. Instead I watch these self-destructive inclinations, and I let them pass. I hold onto hope that maybe we’ll make it through. “We” being both me & this guy and me & my many parts that are both betting for and against this working out.
The thing is, if I let this guy love me, then I’ll have to admit that I’m lovable. And I can’t think of anything harder to accept than that.
So I keep throwing him curveballs, unleashing every grimy, frustrating, overwhelming part of myself that I can muster.
I keep my fingers crossed that it will/won’t work out. But mostly, I allow myself to try — to be open, honest, vulnerable, real. Because even if he does walk away, get tired, move on, at least I can say I did my part. And let me tell you, that’s truly saying something.
I want to dedicate this to everyone who’s opened themselves up to being loved despite the numerous voices telling them otherwise. Because maybe, just maybe, if we believe someone else can love us, we can start to offer it to ourselves ❤