It is a sad sort of realization when you come to see yourself as the girl, turned woman, that’s always found some sort of internal validation from romantic relationships.
I’ve always been an idealist, and I’ve always been a romantic. From as early as I can recall I have memories of imagining my life with my partner, that one soul that finds yours the most compelling, and traveling the world together, having adventures, and finding comfort within each other.
To have those goals for a relationship now are not bad things to want, but this constant thinking that I am not whole until I find my other half is.
I have theories upon theories on how I became “that girl.” And we all know ‘that girl’ if you’re reading this you must know me, and I am that girl.
That girl is the one that flits from relationship to relationship without much time in between to collect themselves and reflect.
It seems I started adulthood in a relationship with my then long-term high school boyfriend (and of 2 years still remains my longest relationship…….) and never stopped.
I’m a socially uncomfortable person. Note: not awkward. I am not awkward, but I feel wildly uncomfortable in most social situations. There are a lot of things going on in my mind, too many factors to contemplate, too many things to take in.
So, when I stumble across someone who takes an interest in me it allows me an opportunity to invest my sensibilities in one person and, thus, sort of anchors me I attach myself to them. This. is. so. unhealthy.
And these insights make me realize that not only have I settled for equally dysfunctional men, but I was not treating the men that I dated with sincerity in my intent for dating them. I was not truthful. With the exception of a very small few whom I very thankful for, I did not truly care for them and their eccentricities, quirks and insights, but rather what they did for me. Some of them could have been anyone. I didn’t truly see them. I saw comfort.
These sort of profound insights only result in feelings of guilt.
I do feel guilty – a feeling that seems to have been haunting me from dark shadows for most of my life. In fact, I remember at about the age of 9 having such intense feelings of guilt that I would follow my mother around the house to own up to my perceived wrongdoings. It got absurd after a while. I would start confessing simple things. I would always sit my mother down, furrowed brow, and state, “Mom, I have to confess something.” To which the insidious behavior for not hanging up a sweater, or hugging my cat too tightly he hissed was revealed. My mother still remembers and ruminates on these ‘confessions’.
Perhaps that is why I tend to gravitate to writing and art that is very self-reflective and expressive, to confess and to own up to my wrong doings and vindicate myself from perceived wrongdoings. This is just an adult form of this pattern of behavior.
But the interesting thing about most of these relationships is that I have been actively trying to avoid parts of myself for most of my life. This was not the way when I was younger. In fact, I was pretty bold when I was a child. When the other girls in the neighborhood went boy crazy, I preferred to ‘explore’ the treeline behind my house. I used to be proud of this. I had interests, hobbies, and a clear identity. And that girl is still in me in a womanly form, but she is just a little buried deep down within the recesses of my mind, six feet under self-doubt and insecurity.
So naturally, I begin to resent whomever I am with because I let a part of myself be overtaken and guided. In turn, they resent a that part of me that is always detached. Then things implode. It’s complicated, and a relationship is something best reserved for a time after a long, long period of honest, gut-wrenching introspection. Then, following that, after a period of self-reflection & commitment to uphold the conclusions that I arrive to.
I think I have been wanting to write about this for years, but I never have had the courage to own up to this particular aspect of my personality because it conflicts with the idea I have of myself– that I am independent, self-assured, and compellingly interesting on my own.
Nobody wants to see themselves as someone who needs others to feel complete. Nobody wants to admit that they actively search for parts of themselves in others, but this is something that I see all too often, and it’s so negative, that I want to, I guess, own it, acknowledge it, and start a dialogue about it.
And when I reflect on the very brief periods of my adult life when I am not in a relationship I realize that during those periods I do things that are the most rewarding. I tend to seek out my own interests, hobbies, and professional aspirations and achieve them. So, why I set aside that to invest my energy in something that usually drains me is beyond my understanding.
The only conclusion that I can seem to arrive to at this point is that it is deeply rooted in some sort of inherent loneliness, a desire to be understood which, for me, has never seemingly come easy. This is not the fault of those that surround me, but rather my own doing. I keep thoughts and ruminations locked away, reserved for one person, in that hopes that the dark will no longer exist.
As of late, though it may seem untrue to those in close proximity to me, my efforts have been to allow those that express a healthy interest in being close to me access into my life, to fill a space previously reserved for a fantasy person I’ve created in my imagination. And as I allow these friendships to be deepened with truth, not shying away from the bits of me that I do not like, I find that they are truer, deeper, more meaningful. (I hope you know who you are.. Forgive me if I do not do an adequate job at expressing my gratitude.)
There is a darkness to me. It has been there since I was a child. I am not an unhappy person by nature, but I am prone to bouts of severe introspection and rumination which often render me an intense entity to be around, perhaps even a bit sullen. Small talk, at times, becomes too big for me to handle, it is seemingly a chore that I can not navigate well and during these moments end up revealing parts of myself to strangers that I’d rather keep for either myself or close friends. That’s the strange part about intimacy, that you never really realize how intimate you are or aren’t until you are accountable for only yourself.
As I am now a few months removed from my last dating debacle, I find myself anxiously choosing my words to others. Carefully constructing what I say to others, how I handle conflict, how I respond to characters that rub me the wrong way, because when I go home there will be nobody there to validate that I am either right or wrong, that my thinking is on a healthy track or not. And, for the first time, I don’t want it to be guided by anyone else. At least, not dependent on it. I do recognize that humans are pack creatures and confiding in a friend, without romantic inclinations, is important for becoming a whole individual. I am learning to lean on others while maintaining my own air of confidence in my conclusions.
I want to sit with myself. I want to sweat out the addiction of having a partner and suffer the withdraws of a relationship. And it will pass, and when it passes I will have a clearer perspective.
I envy women who don’t suffer this disposition. The women who have found bodies and minds to settle into comfortably, who can pull up a chair with themselves, share a smoke, and mind and brain shake hands and part ways with one another cordigally. I am not one of those women. I find myself apologizing too often. I find myself shrinking within myself too often to live loud lest I make someone uncomfortable with my presence and my thoughts. I constantly think if I were more X then Y would happen.
I don’t resent past partners, though. Despite some of the horrific shit it’s all the becoming, and without it maybe I’d never have this thought.
There are girls like me. I see them often. And there are women like me. I see them often, as well. And, interestingly, I judge these girls and women harshly. I see them recoil within themselves, not speak up for themselves, shrink in corners of conflict and allow someone to speak for them. I realize how often that I have been that woman. What do they say– that familiarity breeds contempt? That is a true ass statement.
This is the most honest piece of writing I’ve done in years. I think I have always hinted at certain things, pulling from other aspects alluding to this thought, but never wanted to call a spade a spade. There is a certain sort of commitment that comes with accountability – once you recognize something in yourself and proclaim a desire to correct it, the denial of it is no longer acceptable, the avoidance becomes harder and not without crushing consequences (your own disapproval, the worst of all.)
What is interesting is that while I used a relationship to feel like a badass person, the most badass thing I could have done for myself would have been to truly take time to reflect on who I am, what I stand for, and without doubt reach for the things that I want, without asking permission. That is my goal as I enter this new reincarnation of Logan. And I urge everyone, together or not, to never diminish yourself for another, to never think you need the approval of anyone else but your own damn self. Because no matter how often I had someone there to tell me that I was okay, that whatever I did was normal, that the thoughts I had weren’t uncommon I knew deep down that it wasn’t the version of me that I wanted to be. It would creep in on me during quiet moments, in the shower, driving to work, washing dishes, reading a poem. It was always there, this quiet sort of nag that the only relationship I needed was the one with myself. The only approval I needed was mine. The only validation I needed was my own. The only comfort I could rely on was a comfortable respect for myself. Then, everything else can be true, honest, sincere. That will (or won’t) come, but for the first time in a long time I am not preoccupied with becoming a great person for anyone else but me. That is sometimes true – I still find myself in moments of wanting to be great so that I’m desirable, but then I just remind myself of all of this.
I am humble enough to know that when I write I’m at a half truth, still working on something, and am human with human flaws. But, reminding myself of what I’m about and what I want and keeping that at the forefront of my mind has been endlessly helpful.