I've never considered myself to be that girl.
You know that girl. The girl who chases un-available men, pushes away the available ones, has impossible expectations of partners, builds up walls and wants - but doesn't believe - that she deserves good in her life. They are other girls, not me. In my mind, those girls are stupid, they don't know when they have a good thing, they whine, and they are just looking for attention. The harsh judgment I've had for that girl is the judgement I've never wanted to pass on myself because that would mean admitting that I don't have my life together.
I've always considered myself to be very self-aware and emotionally healthy (stop laughing). I just figured I was a magnet for unavailable men. Being a magnet was something that was out of my control but if I was patient enough, the right one would come along and be available. Even when I realized I have commitment issues, I figured it was just because I hadn't met the right person. I even figured out a way to blame my non-existent perfect boyfriend (aka Peter Baca) for not coming into my life and therefore forcing me to chase unavailable men.
Yeah, I'm that girl.
When I published last week's post, it felt unfinished, but I couldn't write anymore on the subject of getting over Randy because I realized that I've never completely let go of the idea of him. I've held onto the notion that he was "the one that got away" because if I already had the "perfect" guy (and subsequently lost him), then I never have to let anyone else get close. If I hold on to the notion of "what if" then I never have to try with another person. If I chase unavailable men, then I never have to deal with the reality of what to do if I meet someone who is available and worse, wants to be with me.
Letting go is like being in a deep swimming pool and being afraid to let go of the wall. Holding on to the wall means I don't have to face swimming or worse, sinking. Letting go means I'll be completely free and open and vulnerable. I dated Astro Boy and Freddy after Randy and while I liked both of them a lot, Randy was still a lingering feeling that I just couldn't completely let go of - like a safety net. When things didn't work out with either of them, I immediately emailed Randy - not to tell him about the heartbreak but just to reach out and, well, feel bad that things didn't work out between us. It's a pretty ugly cycle when you think about it, and one I never really paid much attention to.
Yes, I'm that girl, but I'm not stupid, whiny, nor am I just seeking attention. I build up walls because I'm afraid to be in a relationship again. I'm afraid of losing myself. I'm afraid of arguing and feeling insecure and jealous. I'm afraid of being hurt but more than that, I'm afraid of almost being in love and almost having the spark and almost being the one but never quite being enough. I want good in my life, but somewhere deep inside, I believe I don't deserve it. I can almost hear the collective pressing of the "reply" button as people rush to tell me that I do deserve it, but before you reply, let me finish.
I believe that I don't deserve good because life has a way of damaging a person, and when one feels damaged, it's hard to imagine feeling any other way. Damaged becomes normal and happy/secure/healthy becomes rare and scary. For years I've been convinced that when I'm happy, somehow, the Universe is going to punish me (for my happiness) and something really bad is going to happen. Rather than let that happen, I do something (or choose someone) to upset the happiness myself so that nothing REALLY bad will happen. Being that girl has so many more layers than just being picky or stupid - there is hurt and fear, disappointment and loneliness. When one doesn't believe that she or he deserves good, one becomes a magnet for unavailable, mediocre, worthless and downright toxic.
I do not and will not take the blame for the way someone chooses to treat me. If a guy is a jerk or emotionally distant or a cheater (or a drug dealer, married, lazy, incompetent, narcissistic, etc. etc.) that's on him and no one deserves to be treated badly. The only part I am responsible for is staying after I realize things are bad. When I ignore my instincts, my "uh-oh" feeling, the warning signs and even the blatant truth, then I need to take responsibility for my choices. I'm a smart woman, I know right from wrong and I know when I'm being treated badly. The best lesson of the strike is learning when to jump ship - and these days, I rarely get on board. I can't control how someone treats me, I can only control what I do next.
There is an upside to all of this - I'm damaged, yes, but not beyond repair. I'm making room for the good that exists out in the world and letting it seep in little by little. I'm learning to trust myself and know that being alone isn't the same as being lonely, and I'm so much happier than I've ever been and working really hard to make happy the norm. I'm letting go of the edge of the pool and trying to remember that I won't drown. Granted, sometimes I reach out and grab on because I'm afraid, but then I let go again and swim a little further out.
When I sit and imagine what "healed" feels like, I picture myself as confident and happy, secure and yes, I even imagine my partner. We don't argue over petty things, nor am I insecure or afraid. Not only do we have the spark - we are a steady flame. When I think about being healed, I think about realizing that I am enough, and believing that I deserve good in my life - and feeling that way all the time, not just in spurts. Healed means becoming that woman, and that woman also understands that girl, and instead of judging her, she holds her close, helps her take down the walls and makes her feel less afraid.
I'm thinking That Woman is a pretty good swimmer. Hopefully, she'll teach me a thing or two.
Next time: A Different Kind of Birther