There are some days when you wake up too early, get some work done, then think about making pancakes. And while you are thinking about whether you want one big pancake or a few tiny pancakes, you read an article like this about “bad romances.”
And then you realize several things: (a) it’s time to come clean about how emotionally beat-up you really were in a particular relationship; and (b) you’re not alone.
When I say this last year has been “tough,” in terms of dating, I truly mean it. When I look back on the relationship I had at the beginning of my graduate program, how I was treated, and how it in turn caused me to try and clean up that mess with other relationships, it makes me sad. It hurts to see how willing I was to say, “I’m not changing anything about myself,” when my spontaneity, humor, independence, intelligence, values, and self were stupid and naive in the eyes of someone else–someone, I thought, I loved. It’s hard to answer the question of “Why?” in regards to why I would let that happen, and every time I’ve tried before, I just made myself feel worse about it. And imagine trying to answer that to other people–it was best to not talk about it and write it off as just another failed romance. But that wasn’t the best choice; it was just the easy way around it, to get myself re-focused on school and on my career. It’s done some damage, and it’s time for that to stop.
I suppose one of the things I should have done after my relationship ended with the Super Ninja was get this out there:
Dear future partner,
I know you care about me; I care about you, too. I want you to listen for just a second, though, because what I’m telling you right now is important to us. I was hurt before you came along, and I don’t think I ever found a way to fully heal from it. I thought I was okay, but that’s an easy way to say ‘I buried the negative experiences deep down in my memory, where they won’t bother me from day-to-day.’ In other words, I’m embarrassed of the way I let myself be treated before, and rather than come to terms with it, I hid it–away from myself, away from my friends, away from you.
I don’t expect you to fix me; I’m not hiring you to be my counselor. I do hope that you can see past my hesitations. I hope that if we’re together on an afternoon and I go quiet, that you’ll ask what’s wrong–and that it will be okay if I tell you I’m just remembering unwillingly how I felt several years ago. Yes, it’s out-of-character; it’s not like happy, bubbly, funny Ardith to be so closed-off or overly emotional. But this will pass. Understand that I don’t want to be broken anymore, and the chore of cleaning up isn’t the prettiest. I’ll understand if this is too much, but I at least hope you understand one more thing:
I’ll be okay. It’s just taking a bit more time.
Not exactly a great pick-up line, huh? But… there it is. And that’s me retracing my steps to take a first step all over again.
Now, back to my regularly-scheduled pancakes.