This is sort of akin to my self deprecation post, in which I wondered whether my self deprecation belied the way I really feel about myself or was just a tactic to keep people from thinking of me as vain or arrogant or, in work-related areas, threatening. In the same way I have difficulty accepting a compliment, I also have difficulty accepting love.
For a long time, I was non-functioning. Leading up to this point I cared mostly about going out and being seen and having boys pursue me. Then, right before sophomore year of college, I got a boyfriend, my first real one. He was very enamored with me, and it was an unfamiliar feeling. He respected me and wanted to talk to me on the phone and it was just so mindblowing to me that someone would care enough to just chat with me on the phone for two hours on a Monday night for no reason other than to talk. Having him sort of switched me off the track I was on and I became much more introverted. So now I was still non-functioning, but non-functioning alone rather than at least occasionally making public social appearances. When he moved home from school after graduation I thought he could finally be there for me through this, but he wasn't. His friends took precedent over me (as friends often do!) and I was still alone, this time having even less of my own things going on by not living in the dorms anymore and having gone through a tremendously painful friend-breakup. I clinged to him because I needed someone, and he pulled away forcefully. I found out awful things he was saying about me but I stayed with him because I felt I had nothing else.
Long story short he broke up with me and I took it about as bad as a human being has ever taken any sort of bad news, but somehow, this time, I persevered through and channeled my energy into school and working hard rather than self destructing. It was infuriating to me that he had left me when I was finally getting better, I could finally talk about all the things I held in from him now and we could finally start planning a future. I was finally starting to love myself, and there he was falling out of love with me.
I have questioned the correlation/causation of these two distinct events frequently but it's really impossible to know anything for sure. During the time I clung to him I did it because I had nothing else and he was (understandably at times) annoyed that I needed so much from him, but then when I had my own friends and my own things going on, he wasn't interested in them or encouraging me to pursue them.
I have a boyfriend now who is incredible. I have never before met anyone like him. He is a chemical engineer also which makes it easy for us to not talk about work together (really, there is nothing more dull to talk about). He loves me so much and I rarely ever doubt that. He shows his love in the most incredible ways by getting me the most thoughtful gifts, always taking me fun new places and being down to just go play some frisbee golf up the block with me, he engages my mom in conversation whenever he is over and just a week or two ago I came home from work to find him and my mom making up a recipe for and testing out peach martinis for us to all have. I don't know many guys who would feel so comfortable doing something so silly, but he does. He genuinely doesn't care what other people think of him, and not in the tough-guy "i don't give a fuck!" way but in the "I'm gonna do/wear/go/eat what I want and I don't care if someone makes fun of me for it so long as I am enjoying it". He should really be the 8th or 9th or whatever they're up to Wonder of the World.
And yet, sometimes I find myself questioning our relationship because it is so hard for me to accept that someone else can love me so truly unconditionally. He knows all the bad things about me and he loves them, and that is frightening to me. With my ex boyfriend, he didn't even know the worst because I was so scared to tell him things, but with Rudy, I have just been endlessly open with him about myself and he never judges me or makes fun of me. He just loves me. So why do I feel unsure about what we have when I fought so hard to keep a relationship with a guy who I knew didn't really like me anymore? Why is it that I sometimes feel willing to let go of all of this when the thought of letting go of the guy who treated me poorly and as an afterthought constantly was so unbearable?
Most importantly, is this another reflection of how I feel about myself? Do I find it so hard to believe that someone could really love the real me so much, especially when so many already turned down the stylized better version of me I was able to present to them, that I let these doubts about how long this can go on for plague my mind? It's not that I haven't felt loved before, but never for so long and so unconditionally. It's overwhelming and it's scary because I know when he says he won't stop loving me, he means it. Maybe it's the permanence of it that frightens me. Maybe I fear that one day he will wake up and realize that I am really not all the special or great. Maybe I don't think I deserve this, and so I can't even let myself get lost in it and really let go. Maybe my own insecurity is keeping me from being able to rationally assess the situation and the relationship. I don't know but I sure hope I figure it out before I sabotage yet another thing in my life. Maybe I'm just due for a little self-destruction, things have been going so well for so long that I'm aching to feel the intense emotions (mostly bad ones but some good ones) that I felt while in the throes of depression, my life completely controlled by my own inability to make a single rational decision. It was awful, don't get me wrong, but the love I felt during that time was so intense, and the happiness when some random thing went well was incredible, though that might just be because the only other feelings I had to compare it to were brutal self loathing and crippling feelings of inadequacy. "Normal" is so dull compared to being "in crisis", that's been a pretty huge adjustment for me. People think that once you're stable in a new life you're way over the hump of recovering from mental illness, but I don't think that's true. I think the sometimes the stability can become the humps in the healing process, because feeling normal is massively overrated. Has this paragraph gone so off track that it's impossible to follow? Probably.
Oh hey look, Neiman Marcus is having an extra 25% off clearance online! What was I talking about?