There are several versions of me, as I think there are several versions of everyone. There’s the girl with Chinese good luck cats on her socks and no make-up on, or there’s the woman in a tight black play suit with a splash of red lipstick. There’s the slob with the pizza box at her bedside, or the crazy bitch that leaves half an hour early to get to the train because having ten minutes to get there makes her nervous. There’s Mummy, Bitch, Lover, Friend a la Alanis Morisette.
Do prospective partners get to see the socks and the trash heap next to the bed? Of course not. You can’t introduce them to crazy straightaway, you have to ease him into it, so he gets used to the idea…..
Having had a few relationships I came to realise something. Eventually they all see you when you are your less shaven, grimy self. This is not what I’m referring to when I ask if you like yourself when you are with him. Those little flaws that make you human, that belongs to you. I’m talking of something deeper, a sense of wellbeing. Your state of mind. Do you find yourself funny, likeable? This can sometimes be the greatest indicator of the future of your relationship.
There must be a certain level of responsibility for your feelings of course, if you have a tendency to be a manic depressive alcoholic anyway, maybe this isn’t for you. But you’ve known yourself all of your life, you know your own relationship blueprint.
It came upon me to write this when I was thinking back to a year long liaison with a man who didn’t allow me to love him. That’s right, I was not authorised to love him, my sense of self became twisted. I didn’t like myself at all. Now I’ve been in a relationship with me for 26 years, I know this bitch inside out. I’m about a 6 on the crazy meter. Being with this guy ramped me up to around 11.
Certain subjects were off limits (my kids). I felt caged. I was fed the tantalising poison of uncertainty. We didn’t have a future, but we played at it for long enough. It was only a matter of time before it ended and I felt that keenly. I was miserable constantly, even if nothing significant happened that day to make me feel so. I felt uneasy, restless. I felt there was always something unsaid. My jealousy was at an all time high. I didn’t even trust him to go to the shop, in fact I didn’t trust a word he said. Now, I can look back on my other relationships and determine that this was a major red flag. I’ve had men to on holidays without me, nights out with friends, trips away with buddies. I’ve trusted them all to an extent. So if the common denominator is me, and the exception is this man, I should have clicked that there was something deeply wrong with the relationship.
Trust isn’t said through words, it’s something that’s there or not. No matter what he did I always felt he was lying. I couldn’t shake it. I googled it, I meditated on it, I tried so hard to rid myself of my body’s better judgement. It was something in his tone, his manner, he felt like a snake in my bed.
Other women felt glittering and beautiful, and I felt like a smudge on the side. I felt like an incapable annoyance without a brain. I thought the problem was me, he told me so. My jealousy “issues” were tearing us apart. My anger “issues”, my “problems”. I fed into it. Even though my conscience knew full well it was a lie. I didn’t have anger problems, I didn’t have Othello syndrome. I was just with the wrong person. He was pushing his toxicity onto me and I absorbed it.
Even my mother noticed, when I showed up to her home in France after several months of being with this man.
“You look terrible. You aren’t yourself.”
At first I took it as an insult. Then I sat down and thought about it. The woman who gave birth to me had observed that I wasn’t myself. I had to listen.
The power of infatuation and fantasy had created a false idea of this man in my head. Logic was to be of no use here, and I paid dearly for not going with my gut instinct(which he claimed didn’t exist).
There came a time toward the end where I hated myself. Dislike had morphed into something else, and I couldn’t even look in a mirror. I became desperate, needy and weak. All my thoughts were directed at him, the man who told me “maybe”. I called him, I begged and pleaded for the truth, something he refused to give to me. He didn’t see me for months yet still claimed to “love” me. He kept me on a string when all I wanted was release. Why did I trust these words when I knew there was nothing to trust? Why did I pin my hope to a liar? The stronger part of me knew to walk away, yet the part that I hated clung on desperately. You see, I didn’t like myself. I shouldn’t have been there.
I became angry with myself, the woman I had known for 26 years was arguing with me. We had become dysfunctional. We couldn’t even be in the same room with each other. She called me stupid. I called her a bitch.
When all was said and done, she gave me a hug. She was there for me, she picked me back up. She taught me to like myself again. She didn’t say “I told you so.” She just listened on the nights where I felt stupid.
Sometimes the only friend you have is yourself, and if you hate your only friend then you really will be alone. Pay attention, listen to the better part of you, the one we all have. She’s been there through all the shit. She was holding your hand during the birth of your children, holding your hair back after one too many tequilas, laughing with you at some inane joke. You kind of have to like her. If you don’t, reconsider the man. Because he won’t be there for you like she is.