I’m not good at romantic relationships. Maybe it’s because, at 30, I haven’t ever been in a real relationship. And I only really started dating at 28. I’m sure it’s because I fed myself a steady diet of romance novels since I was 7. Or maybe it comes from my mom constantly telling me that men were deceitful and to never settle. Maybe it’s because my old church hyped the fact that women are “princesses” and men should jump through hoops to get to them. I don’t know. Whatever the reason – I suck at this romance thing.
My MO has always been to fall for someone who I know will never actually commit to a relationship. It’s usually the fun, charismatic, carefree guy who will ask to “hang out” late at night and well into early morning. We’ll talk about our deepest darkest fears and hopes and dreams. He’ll tell me I’m beautiful and amazing and a wonderful catch. I’ll wonder why he doesn’t attempt to catch me. We’re just friends. Who hang out. All the time. Deep down I know this isn’t going to work out. And because I know that – I’m free to be emotionally vulnerable. I will give it my all, because in a roundabout unhealthy way – this feels safe.
When a decent guy does come along and shows interest I have the opposite reaction. I will freak out. I may have started out liking them but as soon as they start to show interest in me I bolt. I suddenly find myself repulsed by them. I nitpick and find things to dislike and I focus on those things until I convince myself that they are completely wrong for me. Decent men liking me does not feel safe. Because deep down I know, this could go somewhere and I will have to actually commit to a relationship. I will have to be in uncharted territory. I will not be able to control whether I get hurt or heartbroken. In a way falling for the douche is better because even if I know I will end up hurt – well, I control that choice and decision.
But that can’t go on forever.
So I met a guy. Someone totally different than the fun-loving, life of the party, center of attention guy I go for. He’s serious and intense and introspective. The second time we talked he told me he liked me. I freaked out (internally of course). Old habits kicked in and I started to try to find things to dislike about him. But something held me back. I never regretted pushing all the other “decent” guys away. I could have handled things better but I was happy with the end result. With this guy – I had this strong sense that I would regret not giving it a fair shot. This was one “relationship” I did not want to sabotage.
I started talking to my best friend about my feelings. Her advice was simple – “everytime you start to panic and pull away – DON’T. Just tell yourself to stay. Be open and vulnerable.” So I did. It’s only been a month. But for the first time I’m actually powering through my baggage and dysfunction. And I’m getting to know a really good man. Who I happen to like quite a bit. And when he cleared things up for me by telling me he was “pursuing” me – I didn’t panic. I have no idea if this will go anywhere and I know this doesn’t mean my bad habits have disappeared for good. But it feels like I’m finally getting over this. Like maybe I’m finally growing up.
ps – I’m really hoping it goes somewhere.
I read an article today called “10 things that will happen when you start pursuing your dreams”. The aforementioned 10 things are:
- You are going to be scared sh*tless, more than once.
- There are times you’re going to be uncertain.
- You’re going to get way out of your comfort zone.
- Doubt will inevitably creep in.
- You’re going to piss some people off.
- You’re going to learn what you’re made of.
- You will get comfortable asking others for help.
- There will come a day when you’ll want to stop taking risks and settle for something with more security.
- You will feel vulnerable.
- There will be a day when you’re as happy as a kid who just discovered their first jump house, all smiles and laughter.
I’ve only begun taking steps to chasing my dreams and I’m there already. In the throes of being scared shitless, feeling uncertain, out of my comfort zone, doubtful, and wanting security. I know I’m going to piss people off along the way when I give up everything they value and pursue something I value. To sum it up, I am terrified.
Some days the fear buries itself so deep in my body I can’t sleep. I lay awake watching hours of TV so I am distracted from the fact that my life is not where I want it to be. I am not what I wanted to be. So I stay up till 2 am until I doze off, wake up the next morning, go to work, and chip away at my soul by going through the rat race that has become my routine. Pushing the fear back with activity and a constant buzz of company. I can’t stand to be alone and it’s more than my natural ESFJ tendencies. I am terrified that in the silence my emotions will overwhelm me. I have forgotten what it means to grieve well. To cry out my hurts and pains to God and then let them go. I have forgotten to be disappointed but not depressed. Everything I feel is too huge, too monstrous for my body to contain. It is like a force is building inside me, an anger and helplessness that is trying to claw it’s way out, no match for the poor prison that is my thin skin.
All this because I am afraid. Other people are afraid and don’t have to deal with feeling like they want to crawl out of their skin. But I’m not most people. I have tried to control my life for decades. I can remember being an impulsive, passionate child. A bit of a force of nature. But as the product of my parents’ wild emotions and ever-changing circumstances I developed a desperate carefulness. The need to always be good, to do what was expected of me, because it meant that despite everything going wrong in my world, there was one thing that was solid, and consistent, and stable. I was a rock. Immovable. Only I wasn’t. If I was a rock, I was slowly being chipped at by the force of a waterfall. I was never meant to be this carefully controlled person.
The cracks and chips are starting to show. I have an itch under my skin to change my world, change my life. Do something impulsive and passionate and so very unlike me. To chase a dream and feel every beautifully terrifying emotion along the way. To survive being broken and put back together in pursuit of something more. To let go of everything I’m holding onto and reach for everything I have ever wanted. To feel fulfilled to my core because of all the out-of-control mess I had to wade through to get to a place of clean, pure, peace. The peace that is found in the midst of powerlessness. Peace that surpasses all understanding. And covers a multitude of fears.