About 6 months after I hooked up with Ben I remember falling into a depression and being really bewildered by it. I couldn’t figure out what the issue was. I had this great new boyfriend, so much better on every level than any of my previous liaisons, he’d finally let me have sex with him (he made me wait 4 months, the bastard), we had a tremendous amount to of fun, and I looked forward to seeing him and talking to him as much as possible. But something wasn’t right. Things that should make me happy no longer made me happy. I knew I liked him and wanted him around, but that was about it. I mean, I didn’t feel better when I thought of him. In fact, I sometimes felt overwhelmed. I didn’t really know him that well and yet I was spending every waking moment with him. On the one hand, I was exhausted. On the other, I was relying on an assumption that I myself had clearly warned other people not to fall for.
Despite the fact that I knew so much better, I falsely assumed that having a good boyfriend would make me happy. As in, his mere existence would fix the sucking hole of inadequacy and despair that I seem to have been born with in place of a heart. No man can do that. No vibrator could do that and vibrators don’t need sleep. Or food. Or reassurance. Nor don’t they come with their own set of issues and mitigating circumstances like humans do.
Anyway, what I’m saying is he made my quality of life better, because good relationships do that, but he didn’t fix anything. The same issues I had as a single lady were there as an attached lady, and now I had another person to think of in addition to myself. Like so many good things do, being in a relationship made my life more complicated. Which can exacerbate existing conditions. Such as the sinking feeling that I will never be good enough, smart enough, interesting or pretty enough; that the things I do will have no impact and that I will not and do not count. That I am insignificant.
Having a boyfriend won’t fix your worthiness issues. Believe me.
Deciding you are worthy is what fixes worthiness issues and that is an ongoing project. At least it is for me.
I say this because I did the same thing again when I graduated from college. I was so depressed. One more time I thought something outside of myself would fix what was wrong with me. And when it didn’t, I fell into despair. So I hung between panic and determination until I got a good job.
And then I thought maybe this job would fix me…
Do you see where I’m going with this? I’m still operating under the delusion that there’s some magic combination of actions and reactions, of money, influence and power, of good healthy friendships, clean kitchen floors, adorable haircuts, ironic t-shirts, well trained terriers etc etc ad infinitum, that I will be… what? Worthy of love? Deserving of all the incredible people and things I have in my life? Somehow justified in taking up all the space and resources and time that I inconsiderately wasted by being myself all these years and not being better than myself despite my best efforts?
The reason I keep doing this, why I can’t just know how delusional this is and act accordingly is because assumption is tied to the very beginning of me. Before I learned the tools of rational thinking, I knew that I was unwanted. I was told I was unwanted. So I go through my life with the mark of that disappointment in me like a wound. And we all have these things. Childhood brands seared into our adult lives, running through our unconscious actions and assumptions.
It’s not enough to know that it’s irrational to think that a new business will fix me. I have to give myself the time and the space to remember why I think that, and I have to be gentle with the little girl part of me who just wants the love and care she never got, and who still thinks it’s her fault that she didn’t get it. No amount of money, property, or prestige can bring back absent parents, can reverse physical and emotional abuse, can prove to an unwanted child that she is only temporarily unwanted, that in the grand scheme of things no outside power decides worthiness. In my experience, I’m the only person who can ascribe worth to myself.
Sometimes I remember this, frequently I don’t. It’s easier to pile bandages on top of something than actually deal with the frequently icky, painful truth of reality.