I wrote a poem a few years ago that is a riff on You're So Vain by Carly Simon. The poem opens with the line "you're so vain/you probably think this poem is about you" and is about Astro Boy (don't piss off a poet; you never know when you'll be the subject of a poem... or a blog, for that matter). Interestingly enough, those same lines can be applied to me.
I have an un-canny knack for making someone else's behavior and decisions about me, particularly any kind of negative behavior. If a friend is un-responsive to my phone calls or text messages, I think that I must have somehow offended her or him. If someone doesn't say hello when we see each other in public, I immediately surmise that somehow, that person found something to hate about me. I spend countless hours trying to remember what I did wrong, and I find myself agonizing over my friend being angry with me - only to find that either the person didn't see me, or didn't have time to call me back or even if the person is upset with me, we take the time to resolve it.
It's worse when it comes to dating. If someone breaks up with me or a first date doesn't lead to a second date, I rack my brain trying to figure out what exactly that person didn't like about me; I ask myself what I could have done differently, or what I should have said differently, or maybe that one night I should have...or worn this outfit... or changed my hair... I beat myself up for days...weeks...months wondering why he didn't want me.
I wish that anxiety only lent itself when I am in the midst of heartbreak or disappointment, but it even exists when things are going well with someone. I'm terrified of being happy because I'm afraid that the very second I let my guard down, I'll be hurt. I've written before that fear has a way of gripping me around the throat and reminding me that I am un-worthy of happiness, love and respect. My response to the fear is to look for even the slightest sign that he is wavering; I'm always waiting for the conversation that begins with "you're amazing, but..." I find myself waiting for him to change his mind about me and so when he is having a bad day or tells me he has a lot on his mind, it translates to: "I can't stand you and I don't know how to tell you."
Basically, I'm always waiting for the ground to slip from underneath me.
I wasn't always riddled with anxiety when I was in a relationship. Years of being disappointed, hurt and lied to have created a very jaded and distrustful woman. Trust is a precious commodity and hard to find. I not only have a hard time trusting the men I date, but I have a hard time trusting myself as well. I'm constantly afraid I'm going to say or do the wrong thing. Am I calling too much? Do I say the right things when I do call? Am I too abrasive? Too much of a pushover? There is so much noise that happens in my brain that it never shuts off, and it's exhausting.
The simplest answer is this: no, I'm not doing the wrong thing. As I've written before, I'm not malicious or demanding. I'm not cruel to the people I date and I am not a player. I have certain expectations of how I want to be treated and they are not un-reasonable. When a man breaks up with me (or stops calling abruptly, which is shitty), it has nothing to do with me. Maybe there were things he didn't like about me, but that's based on his wants and needs, not what I can or can't offer. I can only be who I am and if that isn't for someone else, then I can't fix that. I spent years trying to be someone I'm not just to make my partner happy, and it is never going to happen again.
I had a great conversation with a good friend yesterday. She was musing about her single status - "I'd date me," she said, "why am I single?" Good question. The best answer I could give is that she is meant for greatness - and part of that means having a partner who contributes to her greatness. I realize that I am meant for the same thing. Finding greatness is hard and requires patience and trust - I have to trust that I am in the place I'm supposed to be in. I have to trust that I am enough not only for someone else but for myself. I have to trust that someone else's behavior has nothing to do with me and the only thing I can control is my response to it.
I have to trust myself, regardless of my fear of doing so.
Next time: Sacrifice