Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The truth about my past.

I am not defective. I do not destroy everything I touch. I am allowed to be happy. I deserve to be treated well.

These sound like simple statements to some, I suppose. But they are something I had not fully realized until this weekend and, largely, before quite possibly the most intimate conversation I've ever had with my best girl friend, C. She came over on Wednesday for a late lunch, because I wanted to be girly and gush about my weekend. We went to get salads and margaritas (the upgraded version of the chef salads we used to eat with our fingers in high school), and I started gushing essentially immediately. It was along the same lines of my last entry, with maybe a little more blushing and giggling.

I was emphasizing to her how it makes me a little nervous how much I like The Optimist and what a strong connection I feel with him. She reminded me that it is, indeed, OK to be swept off your feet sometimes. I just haven't been open to it in a long time. So we started talking about why I was so hesitant to believe that people might like me or that I might even be worth liking.

A little background: I am quite confident about myself, when it comes to two things - my writing and my sexual prowess. (Yes, that's largely why this blog exists, haha.) But Relationships, in the traditional sense, terrify me. I capitalize the R in Relationships intentionally, because I mean those in the more standard and socially acceptable sense. Those kind terrify me because I hold myself solely responsible for the demise of the few Relationships I've had. I have always done something to fuck it up, and because of that I've always felt like I deserved to be left. I haven't felt like I deserved someone in a long time.

I have told myself that I was OK with being the secret, the secondary. And in many ways, I am. But my justification, which I still believe, is that it was unreasonable to expect any single person to be everything someone needed. That was based not so much in my inability to believe that someone could be everything I needed, but that I would never be enough for someone. After all, I screw up Relationships. Sex, I'm good at. Friendships, I can usually manage. But Relationships? Absolutely not.

Perhaps the most spectacular example, in my mind, of my botching a good thing and thereby indicative of my inability to carry out a Relationship was how things ended with Ex. We were together (on and off, but mostly on) for five years. We made the decision to stay together for the first year of college, even though we were going to school across the country from one another. When we were both home for Christmas that year, he gave me a ring. It was expressly NOT an engagement ring, but I wore it (with his permission) on my left-hand ring finger. It was white gold (he knew I don't wear much gold or yellow), sapphire and diamonds. It was beautiful.

Five months later, after flying across the country to drive home with me, he broke up with me.

I have always held myself responsible for this. I don't know that I could even supply the reasoning, but there has never been any doubt in my mind that it was my fault that he didn't love me anymore. In the course of our Relationship, he had always been the stable one. He's pragmatic to a fault, and I (even more so then) am emotional and impulsive. Clearly, it was something I had done that had driven him away. I had been a bad girlfriend, because I didn't have the Girlfriend Gene.

C knew this is how I've felt. Despite an incident that first summer where The Scientist quite literally yelled at me to stop defending Ex and believe that he hurt me and he was wrong to do so, I held myself responsible. I deserved it, after all.

But today at lunch, C and I were talking about my insecurities and my fears about Relationships and how I destroy them. And she just looked at me and said "No, you don't." I looked at her with appropriate confusion.

"You didn't destroy things with Ex. In fact, you didn't do anything wrong. You didn't change anything about you or who you were. He changed, not you. It had everything to do with him, and nothing to do with you. He fucked up by giving you that ring when he wasn't sure about your Relationship. But all you did was believe what he led you to believe. He decided ON HIS OWN that you two weren't going to work. He did it on his own. It was. Not. Your. Fault. He mislead you. You're just a good person that got fucked over."

I didn't know whether to cry or start giggling. I had honestly never thought of it like that. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized she was right. I believed what he said to me, what he told me was true. That was it. The decision, really, in the end, didn't have anything to do with me. (I don't mean to imply here that I was the perfect girlfriend throughout the relationship, because I certainly did things wrong. But in that period when we were separated, I actually was a committed, faithful and devoted girlfriend.)

It was an earth-shattering realization. No one had ever explained it to me like that. And I had been too hard on myself to see it from that angle. As the tears started welling up behind my eyes, though, it sunk in. She was right. The truth about my past isn't that I'm defective or inherently unlovable or perpetually insufficient. The truth about my past is that I got hurt when I wasn't expecting it. And when I didn't deserve it. That's it.

And I have built so many of my beliefs presently on the firm belief that I am simply insufficient and defective, that hearing C say this to me, and honestly believing her, was truly astounding. And I can already feel the ramifications. It means that I am allowed to be happy. Because it means that maybe things aren't inherently doomed. It means that I can be silly, because I don't have to worry about a responsibility to warn my partners about what a danger I am to them. It means that I don't have to automatically invalidate and be suspicious of strong feelings I might have. Because they aren't necessarily going to end in disappointment and heartache.

Perhaps this seems like an excessively sweeping revelation for something ostensibly solely regarding a Relationship that is far away and gone. But that Relationship was so important, that showing me a different perspective on that has shown me a different perspective on so many other things. It doesn't change my childhood. It doesn't change the pessimism or skepticism that growing up with my family has bred into me. It doesn't change the fact that I'm still not sure monogamy will ever be right for me. It doesn't invalidate the Relationships and relationships I've had since Ex.

But it might change the future. It does change what I think I am capable of. It changes what I think I am worthy of. It changes my no-other-options pessimism about Relationships. In many ways, it redefines who I might be able to become. To myself, and even maybe to someone else. For the first time, I actually believe that I am worthy of it. I believe that I deserve to be loved. I deserve to be so lucky to be surrounded by incredible friends and lovers. Who are honest and beautiful and brilliant and making my world and the world at large a better place simply by being in it. I believe that I might have the capacity to make people happy. I believe that I might be worthy of being loved, someday.

I believe that I do NOT deserve to have people like Edward still sending me messages and emails. I believe that I do NOT deserve to be made to feel guilty for being honest about who I am and what I do. I believe that I do NOT need to apologize for the same. I believe that I am NOT solely responsible for every bad thing that has ever happened to me.

And I feel so free.

I am not defective. I do not destroy everything I touch. I am allowed to be happy. I deserve to be treated well.


The Pilot said...

that was incredibly moving. bravo. keep thinking those thoughts. people (and I) love you for a good reason, and it's a beautiful thing for you to finally see it.

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad I could help you see the incredible, loving, wonderful person you are. ~C