I am a control freak. Yup. I know it. I am a control freak because as a teenager I had to learn how to read body language, tone of voice, certain looks and any other microscopic detail so that I could avoid a painful situation. Those painful situations happened anyway but I learned how to read and be in tune with even slight changes and I felt as though it was my duty to fix things so that I could be accepted and loved. I was thinking that if I could catch someone’s bad mood and assert my joy in there, their mood would subside and they wouldn’t have to feel that feeling and I would be saving them from sadness/madness/upsetness. It didn’t work. That will never work. I did not know love, I learned perfectionism and within the self imposed confines of that, I became a people pleaser and I would sacrifice my well being for a little bit of affection…and knowing it wouldn’t last. I just needed a little bit of something to feel like I mattered. I would have rather been inconvenienced and put out, just to get a little bit of attention and affection because I couldn’t find that. I was wrong at every turn. I was unacceptable at every turn. I was unworthy at every turn. I was looking for ways to be enough and i often came up short and I was told so every single time. Ouch.
That lead me to getting into relationships with people who were emotionally unavailable and were willing to take from me without needing to do much of anything because I wanted them to love me. I was going to be caretaker, lover, therapist, coach and anything else I needed to be to be perfection in the eyes of these men. I absolutely needed to be someone who was 10/10 in every area of my relationship because flaws meant that I was bad, wrong, undesirable and unlovable. It meant that criticism of any kind was a shot to my character and it meant I wasn’t enough. The illusion of perfection kept me safe, and away from the need to open myself up to scrutiny but more importantly, it kept me from being loved. I kept saying that I want to be loved and I want to find this endless love, but in my perfection I was not showing the parts of me that needed the most love. I was hiding the part of me that needs to be hugged…A LOT. I was hiding the parts of me that needed to hear that I was beautiful and I needed affection. I was hiding the part of me that needed to be affirmed and told that I mattered and I was loved. I needed tenderness and gentleness but because I did not want to be a burden and I didn’t want to be perceived as needing something, I would implode and erode my happiness rapidly. I was committing emotional suicide and I didn’t know it. Instead I would echo the voice I heard too often, I was not good enough, I was worthless, I was too fat to be loved, I was too much, I was not enough and that was the narrative I played out and my relationships reflected that. I was going to be superwoman for everyone but for myself I was going to take the scraps of affection thrown my way. Fuck. That was hard to write.
The Alchemist…is teaching me how to accept love and how to be loved and this phenomenal woman basically says every single thing that I’ve been thinking and feeling lately. I want to talk specifically about The Alchemist because he is super straight with me, yet he is gentle. And it’s powerful for me to hear him say that he tells me the truth because he loves me, even if he doesn’t know how I will take it. Well damn!!! That is what love is though, right? I always imagined this wonderful, endless, frilly romance and I considered THAT to be the love that I wanted. But in reality and given all the emotional shit I’ve gone through, love first and foremost is honesty. If I am unable to be in a dynamic where we can’t speak our truth about ourselves and to each other, then I don’t want that. I am also learning to not feel badly about needing, wanting and craving hugs, needing affection, needing attention and needing his presence in my life. Why should I feel badly about wanting to be in the presence of someone who brings me joy. Why? Because it’s years and years of conditioning and thinking I was selfish or wrong for wanting to be close and have needs. I was shamed and pushed away for having basic human needs, so I never wanted to say what I needed because I didn’t want to be rejected. Now, this doesn’t mean I need to be a level 5 clinger and dive into a barrel of neediness and helplessness. God no! But it does mean communicating responsibly about what I want and finding the middle ground in our interactions. I am also learning that people are allowed to have their emotions, sadness, need for space, frustrations and breakdowns with me needing to do anything about it. Leaning in too much, and trying to be a therapist or a guru is a pitfall of mine. I don’t need to do anything in those moments other than say a very gentle “I’m here when you’re ready to talk.” My default is to fix, and to find ways to make it better and sometimes that’s not needed nor wanted. I’m learning that it’s okay to do nothing and that space and allowing him to find his own way is absolutely okay. He’s not leaving. He’s doing him. There’s so much freedom in that realization and he told me a while back “you don’t have to have an answer for everything.” I don’t? I don’t have to fix this? I don’t have to know the answer? I don’t have to have a solution? I can just not know? It’s okay to not know? It’s okay for me to take some space and time to answer? It’s okay to take a step back and you mean you won’t be mad at me? You won’t leave while I’m thinking? You won’t think I’m pushing you away if I say I need a moment? Really? Wow. Lightbulb.
A huge part of rewriting my narrative is looking at my interaction with others and my response. I have said this a million times over, I refuse to be responsible for someone else’s feelings. I am responsible for mine. I am responsible for my behaviors and patterns and be able to speak up when I am hurt, overwhelmed and going through a time when I don’t have any words. My feelings get hurt easily but it’s not because of something happening now but it’s the kid in me responding to any feedback as harsh criticism. So the simplest feedback for me can turn into me thinking that I’m bad, wrong and horrible. I project that outwardly and make it mean that someone else is feeling that way about me, when it’s really my own voice feeling that way about me. Whether it’s my romantic relationship, my friendship, my parenting dynamic or a work situation, I am totally responsible for taking a moment to focus on my little kid vs my grown up voice. I have to be responsible for my response to a situation and see how I’m hearing it and what I’m doing with the information that I hear. I have to be responsible for my reactions and my thoughts about a situation BECAUSE my initial reaction may not be the one I want to stay with. Knee jerk reactions are just that…quick, no thought and reactive. Whereas giving myself time to think, process and simmer, that could yield to a more composed, thought out and honest interaction.
I am learning that on this quest to loving myself, I have to face the parts of me that I have been suppressing and holding down. I have to be able to say and identify that I am lovable and worthy. But I need to also be able to say that I am a recovering control freak, I am a recovering perfectionist, I am a recovering people pleaser and I am a recovering “I’m fine.” human being. I have to be able to say that specific thing because I am letting that go. I am working on letting it go and rewriting my story in a way that I am standing in reciprocity. This is not about a man loving me, this is about me loving myself enough to allow myself to be loved by anyone. This is about facing myself and giving myself the leeway and room to love and be gentle with myself the way I am gentle with others. I am learning that when you love someone you’ll give them room to be with themselves and you just gotta let them know that the porch light will be on when they are ready to return. I am also learning that allowing myself to be loved means I can take the time to be with myself and I can return when I am ready. It’s taking comfort in the fact that I will still be loved if I am not perfect, if I don’t know the answer and even when I am not all peaches and cream. People who love me will love me with my fierceness and my flaws. It means that I am allowed to be frustrated, devastated, undecided and the range of human emotions because I am in fact human, fallible and THAT is what makes me lovable and relatable. Writing these things is hard for me but it’s also healing for me. I want to be a better human, mommy, friend, partner, lover and to do that I have to be real about what breaks me, hurts me and wounds my soul.