Warning: This work has been rated 18+ for language and mature content.
Watching myself navigate the dating world is sort of like watching myself navigate a circus hall of mirrors. For each new person that I step before, a new distorted version of myself appears.
For example, I fell severely for a coworker in my mid to late teens who was a hard core outdoorsman. He had once worked at an outdoor supply store, and enjoyed activities such as hiking, biking, frolicking in the forest, making friends with singing birds and woodland creatures, etc. My fascination with him was so deep that I began to adopt his mannerisms and suddenly I was an overnight hiker, health food freak, and environmentalist. I even found myself listening to the funky acoustic jams he played in the office, and uttering uncharacteristic phrases such as “Holy smokes!”.
It took me many, many months to snap out of this but eventually I came to my senses. This clearly was not who I was inside. What did I care about going green? Or acoustic My Morning Jacket playlists? Or twelve speed mountain bikes?
This is a pattern with me, it seems. Any time that I become fascinated with anyone, I ultimately become said person.
I was determined to curb this habit as I became aware of it. I abstained from dating for many months, and dedicated myself in a somewhat Eat Pray Love style, to self-discovery. (What I found within me was basically a forty year old woman with an affinity for strange music and violent movies, but hey, who’s perfect.)
Four months ago, I began my first college class where I emerged onto the social scene determined not to forget what I had accomplished, proud even of who I was.
And then I met him.
He pulled my attention in the way that a night sky pulls you from the ground. I became lost in him, and the idea of having him all to myself.
And now, three months into the relationship I’m slipping back into my old habits. Now, I am suddenly wearing athletic wear (which was pretty much a no in my closet prior), speaking in video game lingo, jamming to dubstep, and learning the subtle intricacies of Yugiyoh.
Not to knock the game, or those who play it, but I simply could not give three literal shits less about Special Summoning, or Xyz Monsters (which contrary to their obvious spelling are actually pronounced “Exzeeze” Monsters. Figure that one out.), or anything related to this game whatsoever. And so I non-rhetorically ask:
What the hell is wrong with me???
I’m not sure if this is amusing, as I stand back and observe my bizarre behavior, or if it is disturbing. I have come to the shocking realization that in the midst of all of this reshaping and metamorphosis of my ‘self’, I am not entirely sure who I actually am.
This is a common twenties conundrum, the uncertainty of self discovery. Everything is new, and it can be difficult to discern the difference between fleeting passions and life commitments.
However, the issue at hand here implies a certain amount of insanity on my part.
Allow me to explain.
This boy was my very first anything. Before him, I had never experienced love before. He was the first person who made me feel valued, and cared for, and special. He was my first touch, my first kiss, my first ...you can guess where this is going to go.
I have so many tender and beautiful memories of how we were for the two months. I can feel his hand on my stomach, the other stroking my hair, as I lay in his lap on a semi-isolated bench in the evening. I remember the feeling of my body pressed against his as he carried me on his back while we trekked across a cold parking lot on a late winter night. I can taste his warm sweet peppermint breath as we kissed in the back of a dark auditorium as the bass line of a particularly sexy rendition of "Can't Help It" reverberated in my ribcage. I can feel his fingers clutching my hips, my backside, my chest, my face as we made out on the couch in his basement. I can hear him whispering in my ear those three words that we all yearn to hear, melting my heart, making me his completely.
All of this said, he provided an air of euphoria and security to me. And I became unhealthily desperate not to lose this feeling.
It didn't take long for us to realize that while we have tremendous chemistry, and very similar personalities, we have almost no common interests. This frustrated him on an unexplainable level, because while I am perfectly content to sit in silence with him, and just enjoy being together, he feels the need to fill the air with constant conversation. When his life revolves around video games I have never played, and mine revolves around performance, it leaves little to be discussed.
One might point out that we could always talk about ourselves. But no. It’s too late. We already spent the first two weeks within an incessant stream of Ask Me Anythings, until we had nothing left to ask. Yes dear reader, I know everything about this boy from his favorite flavor of pie (blueberry and cocount) to his exact masturbatory habits (you don't want to know).
I would have done anything to make him happy, so I slowly began to transform myself, as is my tendency.
And from this side of three months, I am finding myself a little pissed off. Thinking back on our time together, I am realizing that he was actually a douche to me.
See, in the very beginning, I made him aware of my weird habit of mimicking the one I love. And he sat me down, and said “Listen. I want to get to know YOU. Who you REALLY ARE. Cause I saw that girl, and I like her. So deal.”
This, as you can imagine, melted my heart into a puddle of oblivious mush.
But later, he began to get frustrated when I was different from him. In fact, last week he put a contingency upon just hanging out: the only way he would drive to see me is if I played Yugiyoh with him, despite knowing I HATE THAT FREAKING GAME.
But, like a mentally challenged kitten, I continued to chase my flighty butterfly.
He wanted a gamer so I did some research, and listened very carefully as he rambled on for hours about a multiplayer FPS called Destiny. He didn't like my use of strong language (despite using it himself, often. It is a conversation I have to have with him, explaining that when you replace the word 'fuck' with 'f***', you are STILL FUCKING CUSSING.) He didn't want me 'swearing to God', or even typing 'God' with a lower case g. He suggested that I start going to the gym, even offering to go with me because, in his words, "I would never ask you to do that without also subjecting myself to it." And, as I have established, he was dying to teach me that blasted Yugiyoh stuff from day freaking one, and I endured multiple sessions of watching his chewed fingertips clutching and explaining different cards and their functions.
I might add here that he was not very patient with me while in teaching mode, and the condescension was thicker than ever.
Oh, didn’t I mention that? No?
Well he was condescending as fuck.
In typing all of this up, I am realizing that I actually felt inferior when I talked to him, if I’m honest. He had a way of making me feel that, while I am actually over a year older than him, and have far more general experience, I knew jack shit by comparison. His manly world experience and knowledge base far surpassed my own. I was just a silly little girl (which he reminded me of regularly, in addition to my hopelessness), so what did I know?
Why did I put up with this unfair and almost sexist treatment for literal months? The answer is easy. I was terrified of losing him, and that sense of security, the euphoria that surrounded being in love and being loved. I didn’t want to be without a protector, a care taker, a best friend to share my every thought with. It is a shameful, weak, and intolerable notion. But it is the honest truth. I simply could not be alone.
So when two days ago we decided to break things off, I clung to him like a small child grips the chains of a swing set when they feel themselves swinging too high. I was desperate not to be allowed to fall. I put on a rather shotty show of being okay with the split, and I finally confronted his condascension (which was thick throughout the conversation), but in truth, my heart was fissuring in an earthquake of heart break. I was not ready to say goodbye.
And he wasn’t ready either apparently, because he was adamant about ‘being best friends’.
Firstly, who does that?
Secondly, why would you want that? At least have the balls to call a spade a spade. We are pitching each other like used condoms. Why make this into something it simply isn't?
Moreover, who is even capable of that? Thrusting someone into your soul and then ripping them out, but only part way? How does that even work?
Immediately after this conversation, I went for a drive to clear my mind. I cruised through the spring country back roads in night silence. I did not do the speed limit. I may or may not have driven past his house.
The next day found me in bed, watching Guys and Dolls and Whose Line Is It Anyway, and not eating.
And then I woke up.
Something about revisiting the old comforts I enjoyed before he came along knocked some sense into me. Old films and live entertainment was my life. Watching Marlon Brando swagger as Sky Masterson, and Colin Mockerie improvise ‘an angry sperm searching for the egg’, made me remember who I once was. Who I STILL was somewhere in there. It was like I stepped back inside of my body again, took a look at the horrible mess of a girl who was currently in command, and went, “What the fuck are you doing here?”
What had I done to myself? There really wasn’t so much wrong with the girl who was supposed to be in charge any way. There was no real reason to banish her to begin with.
My best advice to you ladies out there is DO NOT allow a man to change you. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with who you are in this moment, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. And if you ever feel the need or desire to alter any part of you, interior or exterior, in order to please someone else, I have one word for you.
He ain’t worth it. I’m telling you, he isn’t.
Also, don’t ever let anyone talk to you with disrespect. In a relationship, both parties deserve an equal level of ground to stand on. If there is an imbalance of power, someone is going to get hurt. You don’t need that. Don’t be afraid to speak up for yourself, and point out when you are being mistreated. If he argues, I have two words for you.
As for me, I’m going to go enjoy a nice jazz record. It’s late into a misty spring night and it’s been a long day. He hates jazz with a vengeance, and knowing that he somewhere out there would be gritting his teeth to the soothing sounds of Miles Davis’s trumpet makes me content. I will sleep soundly tonight.