I find it irritating that I am this old and I continue to see the same tired, old thought patterns that I have beat to death a million times.
Wait. Before I continue please know- I am happy most of the time. I make reasonably good decisions more often than not. I have pretty good coping skills and I can almost always pick up on unhealthy attitudes and thoughts pretty quickly and I can work through them. I have had LOTS of therapy. I’m okay.
Now, where was I?
I am in a new relationship. It is so good, even if some parts of it are hard. For one thing, he lives two hours from where I am currently working on the East coast. Quite a trek to Texas, which is where I live. Happily. We are both very busy with our careers and our family. Working as a Locum means I don’t always know what my next move is going to be. I don’t even know if I have shifts in this area next month. So, I don’t have a concrete date for when I will see him again. This is stressful for me.
Despite these irritations, I am excited and feel like this is a good relationship. He makes me so happy. Stupid happy. Giddy and giggly. Warm and fuzzy. Content.
The problem is my tendency to get inside my head and allow past experiences to color the way I feel when I am not distracted by the real world. Frankly, this most likely stems from my relationship with my father. I had finally started to trust him and open up when I was banished from his life. I know, that sounds dramatic… but, that’s pretty much what happened. I am no longer his daughter. He has not acknowledged my existence in two decades. Yes, I have reached out. Multiple times via various methods. Nothing. It’s like I never existed.
I know. It has nothing to do with me, it’s his shortcoming. It doesn’t mean I am not a good person or worthy of good things. I know that intellectually. I can explain it all in so many ways. Most of the time it works too. This is the benefit of all the therapy. I know how to deal with the negative thoughts.
Look guys, whether it is intentional or not, when the one man in the world who should love you unconditionally turns his back on you, it leaves a mark. It’s almost as if it changes a girl on a molecular level. She may learn to appreciate all her good qualities and she may have other father figures who step in, but it doesn’t change the fact that she was inherently not worthy of you. She may learn to cope with the loss. She might even have a reasonable, healthy attitude about the situation. Unfortunately for her, there is always that little piece of her that is scarred. She will always be susceptible to feeling like she isn’t enough. Even if that is the most false statement in the world, she is at risk to always be searching for a way to earn love. Love will never be something freely given. She may never be able to simply accept it. She will always be watching for the ground to become a fault line and crumble beneath her feet. I’m not sure if anyone will ever convince her she can trust them. She will always know she was not good enough. She may overcompensate and become more successful than she ever imagined. She may do a phenomenal job at hiding her flaw, but it will always be there just under the surface threatening to expose her as the fraud she must be. It will be the most real thing about her.
Despite all the good therapy and coping skills, and despite the knowledge I am indeed a good person, I am plagued by insecurities. I attempt to manage them by being selective about who I let into my life. I am quick to walk away and protect myself from being hurt. I have perfected the art of avoiding real attachment and intimacy. I even convince myself I am happier because of it. I sneer at people who are “in love.” Suckers. I tell myself I am too smart to depend on someone else to make me happy. I pride myself on the fact I do not need to be in a relationship.
Nothing good ever comes from being vulnerable. Occasionally someone gets in, but mostly I fight it. I certainly don’t allow myself to be vulnerable in romantic matters. Nope. No way. Not me. If I find myself developing feelings for someone I promptly identify their sins to justify ending things. I am only interested in people I have no chance of being able to rely on. I never get my hopes up. I struggle to believe someone will not hurt me. I do not get invested, despite my feeble attempts to convince myself otherwise. I am not running, I am simply avoiding disaster! It’s called being smart. It’s not me, it’s you and I have all the evidence to prove it.
I thought I had found the magic ticket. Date lots of people and avoid commitment. You can have fun and still not risk rejection. Don’t you dare hope for a happy ending and you will never feel cheated. Bingo! That was such a great idea.
Until it backfired.
I met someone who makes me want to be different. I find myself telling him things I don’t tell anyone. I laugh at his stupid, I mean hilariously clever jokes. I don’t find it intrusive when he contacts me. I don’t want to avoid him. He doesn’t get on my nerves. I like him. I enjoy him. He is brilliant, witty, sexy, funny, strong, reliable, clever, warm, caring, handsome and the list could go on… but you get the point. As a side note: he is often exactly right. I mean to the penny. It’s like he knows everything!
I don’t want to spend time with other men. I only want to be with him. A lot.
Admitting that was hard at first. I was scared he would not feel the same way. What kind of man would want to date only me? It’s funny because I was the one who insisted I was not interested in a relationship and he agreed to my terms. I mistakenly thought I had simply added one more opportunity for dinner and adventure. Ha! The jokes on me.
So, now what? Remember that scar? It’s still there and I can’t hide it if I want to actually be present in this relationship. I have to own it and accept the fact that even if my father’s rejection wasn’t my fault, I am still affected by it. I have to acknowledge I am working to overcome my own defenses. This doesn’t mean I get to keep the walls up. It will never work if I don’t allow myself to believe him. All I have to do is pay attention to his actions, which are completely congruent with his words. I just need to trust the way I feel and act accordingly. I need to focus on the situation as it is now. I don’t need to project what I think might happen at some unknown point in the future.
So, I am going to enjoy this great guy. I am going to have an open heart and trust myself. I am going to own all these wonderful and fun feelings. It is time to stop trying to convince myself I am wrong about him. I am allowed to have optimistic hope. It’s okay to be excited. I don’t have to fight happiness.
Today I get to be enough. I am not going to miss the beginning because I am too busy crafting the end. I’m going to celebrate where we are. It’s a good place to be.