I’ve always been a romantic girl. The emotional, mushy, in-love-with-love romantic. The queen of romance novels and happily ever after; I’ve read more Harlequins than you can count. This attitude served me well in previous times. I never let love, or failed love, get the best of me. I was the eternal optimist when it came to relationships. The good always outweighed the bad, and all was eventually right in the world. Now I’m not saying that I’d never been hurt; I certainly had. But I’d never been hurt enough to give up on love- never… until him.
My ex is controlling, emotionally unavailable West Indian (no offense to West Indians). Our relationship was as red hot sexually as it was freezing cold emotionally. And because of some latent biological daddy issues, I fell for him- even knowing that he’d never fall for me. I spent three years begging him to love me. That optimism I talked about earlier is the reason I hung in there so long. I always hoped he’d realize that we were soul mates. Of course, that was a delusion on my part; there’s no way in hell you should have to work that hard to be with someone you “belong” with. Anyway… that was us. After a while, not even my optimism could hide that we were completely unhealthy as a couple and that I was completely unhappy as a person. So… it was over.
I bring him up to give a sense of how far gone I was, and how much I changed after that. I went through the crying, the depression, the bitterness, everything. It took me a long time to stop feeling sad, and to stop feeling like a failure. It took me a long time to feel like myself again. But recently I’ve found that although I feel like myself, I don’t act like myself anymore- at least, not the self I knew myself to be (does that make sense?)
Now I find that when I think about relationships, I’m filled with something along the lines of anxiety- with a hint of fear. Even though I haven’t admitted it before, I’m more afraid that people are out to take advantage of me somehow. I look for the underlying reasons, the ulterior motives- something my formerly mushy, in-love-with-love self would never have done. And when I look at other people’s relationships, most of them just seem like a giant inconvenience that I would NEVER put up with. I’m a little amazed. Now it seems like my guard is up- when I didn’t even have a guard before. I even stopped reading romance novels. I have zero interest in fake independent women who get swept away with their emotions with one kiss from some arrogant ass man. I don’t know if I’ve shunned those women because they’re not reality, or because I’m ashamed that I used to be one of them. Either way, I’m different. And if there’s one thing that makes me uncomfortable, it’s change. To confront that I’ve changed is hard- maybe too hard.
It would be simple to blame it on my ex. To say that his mental and emotional torture jaded me, and that there’s no way back. But that’s just not true. The truth is that I’m hardwired to fix things, to make them better- to try and improve them. And after that relationship, I was broken. So while my heart was recuperating, my mind went into fix-it mode. I convinced myself that the way I handled things with my ex was completely wrong… so I fixed myself. I trained myself to think that my romantic nature was at fault- it made me fall for someone totally wrong, it made me ignore the fact that we were incompatible. And the biggest sin of all- it made me hold on, when I should have been letting go. My mushy happily-ever-after disposition had gotten me into so much trouble- so I put it away. I told myself it was for the best. And then my heart healed… and I thought I was fine. It took me a while to realize that my mind, in trying to protect me, had caused me to change. So now, even though I’m the fun-loving girl I once was, I don’t trust anyone- and I don’t have as much tolerance either. The real dilemma? Trying to decide if this is a good or bad thing.
I want to relax, but I don’t want to be taken advantage of. I want to be patient, but I don’t want to put up with bullshit. I want to be understanding, but I don’t want to be played for a fool. I guess I need some practice finding the middle ground. But I do believe I can do it- that’s it’s possible. I believe I can find what I’m looking for, out there… and inside too. Maybe my optimism’s coming back…