Sometimes my baggage scares me. I know it’s there, weighing me down.
I’ve spent all my life in the shadow of an imaginary person I’m supposed to be. Never quite pretty enough, always just a little too fat, or a little too tall to be conventionally pretty. My feet are too big, and my waist not small enough. My hair is too curly, too dark, too much.
Now my brain! Well, that is of an exceptional size. Good memory, intelligence to spare. Never had to study for a single test. Excepting Physics. But that’s not useful for me anyway.
Yet it is my brain that tells me there is something wrong. Something missing. I want to be wooed. I want to be chased. I want to feel wanted.
No, I need to feel wanted. And not just for sex, or some sort of emotional comfort that verges on a maternal (almost Oedipal) feeling. I need to know that the person I am with values my time as much as I value theirs. I need him to carve a space in his schedule for me. Not everyday, but at least once a week or so.
And I need him to acknowledge that I am a person, with needs, and feelings, and that I am more than just a passing phase. Not acknowledging when I speak via text or chat, while acceptable for a moment when it is obviously work hours, inevitably sends me into a fit of rage. I carved time out of my day to show you that I care, the least you can do is reply. Even if it is to tell me you can’t respond fully at the time.
This comes from the numerous men who have let me know that I’m just not good enough as is. And that little tidbit, that feeling of never being enough has been packed away and placed squarely in my suitcase, taking up a large chunk of space. It is central to all my other issues.
Perhaps it’s because I’m adopted and I have a fear of abandonment. Or perhaps it’s because I’m adopted and my mother used to say “I’m proud of you” instead of “I love you,” but I need to be told that my partner cares for me.
Around this beach ball size chunk of hurt is my need to feel pretty. I put a lot of effort into putting on makeup and choosing an outfit, complete with the right shoes and accessories for an occasion. I do this because I want to look good for you. I do this because I’ve spent my whole life being laughed at because I am not very pretty.
And yet my friends will tell me that’s not true, and the amount of men who hit on me initially suggest it isn’t true. But then they get a good look at me, without my makeup, or without my shapewear. They see the real me, a bit too fat, a little too fuzzy in spots, body slightly crooked from a crooked hip (birth defect), and suddenly their attitudes change. The adoration and the attention disappears, and not slowly either.
Then I need to be told I’m pretty, or at least that they want me, and I’m back at the beginning again…
Next is my need to feel safe. I need to know that a man isn’t going to hurt me. I need to feel the strength of his character, if not the strength of his arms, and sense his genuineness. I need to believe that I can trust him.
These men who use me for their baser needs while making protestations of love, only to get rid of me when I return the sentiment, they are the cause of my self doubt and my fear. So, even when I meet a nice guy, and Superman was definitely that, I am afraid that if he doesn’t show me the right amount of the right kind of attention, then he’s playing me, or preparing to get rid of me.
So how does one unpack this kind of baggage?
A few nights ago, Superman and I had a really long discussion about what happened to make things so very wrong between us. It ends with us being friends, as awkward as that is at the moment, but it forced us to discuss some of this baggage. He finally explained some things to me that I was aware I was doing, but didn’t know that they bothered him nor was I sure how to keep myself from doing them because I needed to talk it out.
Top of the list: he doesn’t think we can work because his schedule is always going to be hectic, and while it offended me that he was squeezing me in, to him that was a big sign that he was interested.
I can see that.
My issue with it is that I wanted to feel like I was important enough for him to set a specific time for us to do things. To me, making the time for someone, as in setting aside a specific time, is much more respectful than just squeezing someone in between different appointments. This isn’t exactly a new concept on here. I had that problem with the Boy. I had that problem with the Artist. In both cases, the fact that they didn’t set time aside for me was precisely because they weren’t actually interested in me. The evidence suggests that it meant he wasn’t really interested in me, or at least in my head that’s what it meant.
But I do have to give him credit: when he would squeeze me in, he never made me feel like I was being squeezed in between appointments. In fact, the night he took me out for midnight munchies because I’d had a bad day with some of my female friends, I didn’t realize that he was squeezing me in until he explained that he still had things to do, so he really had to go, though he was obviously more interested in me than his errands, if you catch my drift.
I began to get…uneasy because I felt like I was always the one taking the initiative to set things up. I was always asking what his schedule was, or if he wanted to join me for this, that, or the other thing. While he is always going out with his friends, he’s never thought to invite me to go with him when he goes dancing or whatever. And I didn’t push that because I knew it was too soon for the meeting of the friends/family.
The more effort I saw myself putting in to actually see him, while I saw no effort on his part to set time aside for me, made me doubt his interest. That does not engender the necessary feelings of safety because of the previously horrific experiences I had with guys not making time for me.
I needed that feeling of safety. I needed the reassurance that I was important. And it took him absolutely blowing up at me and informing me that all his friends knew about me and were tired of hearing about me for me to realize and believe that I meant anything to him.
The Boy, as part of his apology, pointed out that he was aware that that was one of the downfalls between he and I: that he didn’t reassure me enough. He didn’t compliment me very often, but would instead tell me about the hot girls at work or that he played Magic or any number of other girls who he found drool worthy. He has since said that all he can do is be better about being complimentary “going forward,” which is kind of an odd phrase given the condition of our relationship at this time, but it was definitely appreciated.
The Boy has also been very good about taking some initiative to acknowledge me throughout the day. He sent me a few songs that he thought I’d appreciate. This is mildly reminiscent of how it was in the beginning, and thus very sweet…although it is a case of too little too late.
Of course, I don’t think the Boy is actually trying to woo me, but it is worth noting that he is giving me the things I wanted now that there is no chance of us ever getting back together. I wonder if that is a thing; he isn’t the first guy in my past to give me exactly what I want after we’ve decided that it’s 100% over.
Every time it happens it makes me a little leery. Like in the movies when the arch nemesis brings the hero something sweet to butter them up… I have to keep myself from asking “what is it that you want?” Or “what game are you playing at?”
Either way, I’m trying to be more aware of my baggage, and I’m trying to learn how to not let it get the better of me. I wish I had been more open about my concerns in the beginning instead of bottling them up. As part of our long discussion, I tried to tell Superman that my issue wasn’t that he wasn’t giving me enough time. Although that was the most obvious way it manifested, it was really that I didn’t know if I was important to him. I didn’t realize that he was incapable of making plans.
Though I suppose I should have been.
Remember the amazing date where he bought me the book? The one before the initial implosion of our relationship? Well, I had told him I didn’t want to plan any of it. It was his turn. He really seemed to struggle with that. We went to the bookstore because I suggested it. We ended up at the beach because I suggested it. Yes it was his decision, but he struggled with coming up with a game plan on his own.
Maybe it’s some of his baggage coming through. Maybe some stupid woman in the past hurt him by not accepting the things he suggested, or maybe it was a continual situation. I don’t know, but he intimated that he didn’t have a good track record with the planning of events.
Now that I know that, I can work with that. Now that I know that he cared enough to share me, not hide me like it seemed, I feel a little safer, and I definitely now see how I was wanted.
Unfortunately, it seems that we waited too long to have that conversation. While I was working through my issues, and trying to figure out how to explain myself, he was convincing himself that it wasn’t workable. Now we’re back further than we started, and if it is fixable, it’s going to take a great deal of work to get back to a comfortable place.
Tonight may be a beginning to that; we’re going to the movies. Worst case scenario, I can chock the whole thing up to a learning experience. Slightly better scenario, I get my friend back. Best case scenario, we’ve made it back to the beginning and can now move forward at the pace we should have done from the beginning.