Self awareness is never a comfortable path. Matter of fact, it’s downright painful during days when the world around you forces you to dig deep and Fix The Gods Damned Problem inside yourself before you self-destruct. Moments of awareness tend to arrive around the time you think you’ve gotten your shit together just enough to be completely heartbroken the instant you realize you’ve been stuck in an unhealthy decision pattern affecting half your life, that you’ve slapped a Barbie Band-aid over the problem, preventing you from finding happiness in any truly meaningful way.
I had a moment of stark clarity this weekend. I did not like what I saw in the soul mirror.
Every decision I’ve made regarding love came while cowering under fear’s vast shadow. Fear I’d die alone. Fearful of the day I reached the point where my stubborn determination to keep my head screwed on tight enough isn’t enough and I have no help. Most shamefully, I let fear reinforce the notion that I am not good enough.
I honestly thought I’d worked through this. The core of my self care has always been to keep fear from pushing me to poor romantic choices. Man, understanding how far I had to go sucked on a level I cannot fully convey in words. My heart hit my combat boots. I found what privacy I could and had an hour-long cry. The next morning, it was wash, rinse, repeat on the self pity front until I pulled myself up by the bootstraps and stubbornly moved through the day. The talk I had with myself while I cried never fully left my mind. It dogged me as the day progressed, haunting conversations with friends I see too rarely.
Warning: The following is adult in nature. Younger readers, please do not read on.
Do you—or did you—have that friend who always somehow ended up naked or having sex at a party? We’re not talking once when too drunk, but every party, every occasion. The more public, the better.
I was that person. No, I guess I still am that person to an extent. Back in my party-hard days, I forever made a spectacle of my sex life. Whoever wanted me could have me, wherever they wanted me. I had some standards. Intercourse itself was a private affair. Foreplay? That was hazy ground, dependent on how much clothing came off or who was around. I had to be at least mildly attracted to the person, plus felt safe. Which is laughable considering I was a pill-popping functional alcoholic for longer than I wish to admit publicly. Most days I shouldn’t have decided what shoes to wear, let alone who I crawled in bed with.
The attention was just as addictive as the pills. More so, considering I kicked pills to the curb long before understanding what I continued to do to myself emotionally.
Why? Why put myself through a fifteen year cycle of nothing but meaningless sex I hardly felt because I was so wasted and relationships doomed to failure?
I alone am not enough to love. There’s something missing at my heart, or maybe it’s my body. Perhaps I’m not as smart as I should be. If my tits were bigger, would that keep them around? How does one go about plugging five-billion holes in a ship they drilled themselves or had help drilling? My solution was to be the gap filler. A guy wanted a woman who left him? I was there. Someone needed the emotional balance of a partner, but never gave any support in return? I poured my care without leaving anything in the reserve tank—little did I know I’d need that reserve for my father’s death; this turn in the cycle lead to years of suicidal thoughts.
The damage didn’t always come from my own hand. Some went out of their way to foster side relationships behind my back, then present them like goddesses to worship. What did I do? Gave them money to purchase and ship presents. Sacrificed my computer and writing time so they could have cyber sex. Encouraged the behavior by finding people of my own to screw and recategorizing the relationship as open. Never mind that all I saw when I looked in the future was nothing with these people except more of the same or nothing at all.
For many lovers, I never came first. I never minded. They gave me attention, I screwed them. I squashed my sexual morals attempting to be the brightest star in their sky. By the time I hit thirty, I felt more like copper peeking through the tarnish on a penny and had no relationship prospects in sight. I got more attention bed hopping, anyway. Why bog myself in a relationship when the last one nearly ruined me? I thought being okay without a significant other was progress. I’m an independent bitch, and all that jazz.
I was so wrong.
Loneliness crept up and tackled me this weekend. I’ve been isolated for months. Working non-stop, yet never having enough money, so I work harder foolishly thinking it’ll yield more. When I did finally go in public, it was a disaster. I found myself caught in this awful sexual cycle again and it finally sunk it: This is not what I want for my future.
It’s a long-standing joke that I’ll never get married. I make it so people shut the fuck up and quit asking. I also do it so anyone I want to fuck knows I won’t be that clingy chick who assumes a few mutual orgasms means the ring is on the way. Thing is, I want to have someone who’ll listen to me, care about something I love without judgment even if it’s not their “thing”, give me the balance I need in order to remain sane while living with bipolar, and do those little things couples do to say “I love you” without words. Years of this cycle tells me this is selfish. I know that’s wrong. I really, honestly do. Ingrained behavior isn’t easy to shake, even with self awareness. I’ve spent so long ignoring the fact that I want anything for the future, finding that glimmer again is impossible. That’s what broke my heart this weekend. I don’t know how to want love, real love, because I don’t know what it is.