“Excuse me would you mind watching my things for a bit?”
“Sure, no problem.” Thank God because I have to make.
The stranger beside me at “fourbucks” could very well make off with my laptop and wool pea coat while I’m in the bathroom, but they don’t. I trust strangers readily with my things.
When it comes to trusting those I love, I plunge my arms through the holes of my coat, taking care to button it closed, then fold my arms in defense. I want to run. It’s called guarded; it’s something so deep-rooted within me. It rarely has anything to do with the person’s behavior and everything to do with me and my very real and very painful fears.
I’ll trust the weirdo in the wool hat and oversized sunglasses, sitting indoors, noodling with his iPod, to keep an eye on my writing, but I won’t let the naked man beside me in bed love me. I’m more scared of love than theft. Theft is an inconvenience; you feel violated, but eventually, you can sleep through the night again and don’t flinch at the smallest sounds. Betrayal lasts, many years after the mess is behind you. It keeps you awake and restless in the night, afraid it will happen again, now that you’re in love. I’m scared of being lied to, of discovering even the smallest withholding of truth, lies by omission. I’m scared of what I’m so scared of.
When a MID mentions he’s decided, out of the blue, to make plans with a woman with whom he used to be intimate, an ex, I become anxious. I know he doesn’t define their relationship that way; he doesn’t see her as someone with whom he was intimate. He sees her as a friend, someone who enhances his life. Knowing that doesn’t make me feel better. He could invite me to join; that doesn’t help either. All I can think is “She wants him,” “They woke up beside one another.” Then it goes to, “and why now does he all of a sudden have to be her friend again? They haven’t spoken for months, and now he wants us to all be friends?" Okay, breathe, Stephanie. He loves you. He’d never do anything to ruin this. Yeah, still not helping. “They broke up for a reason,” I chant in my head. Nope. I’m still anxious. Why does he want or need to be friends with her?!?
Then I look at my own life. I’m friendly with men with whom I’ve been intimate, and I don’t keep them around thinking, “just incase.” I’m not their friend because they stroke my ego. I’m their friend because of what they add to my life, their humor and perspective, their companionship and the delight they add to my life. Just like any of my female friends. So I have to assume the MID feels the same way about his exes. But I can’t. It’s called immature maybe. Irrational. Definitely insecure.
I don’t want my man to spend time with anyone who knows him as I do, knows the way he smells or tastes, feels up against her in the morning. I can’t stop my brain from going there. It makes me a hypocrite because I KNOW nothing would ever happen with me and any of my exes, and I know nothing would ever happen between him and his. Yet there it is, a knot of anxiety, pitting against me. It’s insecurity.
I fear she’ll delight him in a way I won’t. Even if she’s ugly with little teeth and a mouthful of gums, I’d still worry. It’s not about how good I look compared to her (though if she were beautiful, I’d feel worse). It’s that once upon a time, she was beautiful to him, or smart, or talented. I hate the idea that she has seen that part of him, the kind nurturing thoughtful him, the him I want for myself. I worry that he’ll change his mind and grow close to her. I can’t be afraid of that though. It’s something I can’t control. If that does happen, we aren’t meant to be. I don’t want to be friends with a woman who has awoken beside him come morning. I just don’t. I don’t want to share that, to have that in common. That’s mine, ours, and I don’t want to be reminded that it wasn’t always the case. That’s what hurts maybe. I know he chooses me now, but knowing he hasn’t always chosen me hurts.
Why does he keep the ties open? Why do I? Is it because I know these men still adore me? No. Many of them are in new relationships. That’s the thing. If he were to say, she’s my friend now. She is an ex, but that was ages ago. She’s happily married now, then I wouldn’t care. It’s the idea that there’s a chance they might rekindle something that makes me anxious.
It’s not her of course. It’s not him either. It’s ME! I’d be upset if he made a new female friend he wanted to spend time with alone. Breathe. Why am I like this? Why is this so deep-rooted through me? It’s insecurity. Deep inside, part of me has to question why he’s with me because if I really knew it, through me, emotionally, it wouldn’t bother me. Intellectually, I know my worth, know 100% that he’d never cheat, know how much he loves me and us, but this isn’t about him. Emotionally, I’m wary. I’m waiting to be disappointed, to detective the shit out of our relationship, to prove myself right, to reveal hidden half-truths. And once I do that, it’s all over. It’s no way to live, to be distrustful. I’m doing it to myself, and I want to stop.
Bottom line: I shouldn’t be friends with anyone who would either be uncomfortable being around me with my significant other, or with anyone I’d feel uncomfortable being around with my significant other. The question is, should I be friends with someone who makes my significant other uncomfortable?
I could understand and respect if the MID had a problem with my spending time with anyone who either wants to sleep with me or has in the past. It’s not about his not trusting me because if someone is going to cheat, they’ll cheat. In all likelihood, it won’t be with the ex you’re obsessing over.
I still can’t deal with my man choosing to hang out with an ex, which means I shouldn’t either. I’d rather cut all ties than be anxious when he calls to say, “Oh yeah, I’m having dinner with her tonight. You can totally join if you want.” I’ve said that before too, then prayed he wouldn’t say, “okay.”
I just think we bring enough of our past to the relationship without an actual embodiment of it. We bring them in our current irrational behavior and fears. Why add to it in the flesh? I have a hard enough time confronting my fears without having to worry about when he’ll speak to her next. I’m busy beating myself up because I NEED therapy, because I feel so emotionally beat up.
Intellectually, of course I know I’m wonderful, creative, talented, and worthy of love. Emotionally, I feel so damaged, like I have so far to go. I can tell myself, "Hey, I’m desirable to the opposite sex. I have so much to offer someone, so if he doesn’t choose me, then that’s his loss. Because I am awesome. I can’t make him love me. So he will or he won’t, so why bother worrying about it until something happens?" I can say all of it, but it’s so hard to fully believe in it. To completely believe he’ll never be tempted because my last relationship didn’t exactly end because he went off to war. So now, by being in a loving relationship (which is very much what I want), I’m forced to face and deal with things that fcuking rip me up. And I hate this feeling. I HATE that I need help. I HATE that I need a therapist. I don’t want to be this way. And I am SOOOOO hard on myself, which I really can’t help but do. It’s funny because in my past, I was much worse. I dealt with it by running to an ex to make me feel better. Like, I’d feel insecure and upset with myself, and I’d run to an ex who would tell me how amazing I am, how I’m too hard on myself, how he should love me just as I am, and I’d feel better. I know now that’s temporary; that it doesn’t only not solve anything, but it makes everything worse. And that’s how I feel today, at my worst because I still have so far to go.