I did what might sound like an odd exercise over the weekend. I’d been having a lot of issues when it came to dating. Issues with myself. Deep seated distrust and even dislike of guys. I recognized how guarded I was on dates and how it only seemed to be getting worse. I couldn’t figure out why I would feel so sick to the point of extreme nausea before a date. I knew it wasn’t good that usually when I went out on a date I would rather be at home watching a movie or hanging out with my friends. I knew I had to stop being so closed off and not acting like myself or no one was ever going to be able to get know me. So I decided to do my own therapeutic exercise (real therapy is super expensive). I made a list of all the guys I could remember that I dated or liked and how what had happened with us made me feel. How it had contributed to my being as closed off as I am today.
The list ended up being 4 pages long. Yep, 4 pages of guys who had lied, betrayed me, hurt me, used me or made me feel like I wasn’t enough. Even I was baffled. I don’t think my list of bad experiences is any worse than any other girls’ which is probably the saddest part. We all have to weed through a lot of bad shit when it comes to dating. But seeing it there in front of me on paper was…wow.
There were two common themes through all of them: 1) I didn’t feel like I was enough, and 2) Guys weren’t worth trusting. Four pages worth of guys reinforced the idea that they weren’t being vulnerable for. Four pages convinced me that if I let my guard down, I was going to get hurt or end up acting like a fool. Four pages led me to believe that liking a guy wasn’t going to turn out well because he was either going to not reciprocate or he would disappear after a while, even if he seemed like he really liked me in the beginning. Four pages worth of guys that I let convince me that I wasn’t enough. That if only I was prettier maybe he would have stayed. If I wasn’t disabled maybe he would have called again. If I looked like the girls in the magazines, maybe the guy in college would have liked me instead of using me to get to my roommate. If I had a more bubbly personality like the other girls, we would have ended up in a relationship. If I didn’t give off “that vibe”, he wouldn’t have only wanted to sleep with me.
I must have built a new wall every time I got hurt because it’s gotten to the point where I don’t even know where to begin with knocking them down. I can’t even find a sledgehammer to start the work. I don’t want to put all the blame on the guys here because for some of them, I should have known better and towards the end, I think my fear of vulnerability played into things not working out. Kind of a screwed up Catch 22 isn’t it?
I always watched movies growing up where the woman was all about her job and emotionally closed off. Then she would meet a guy who would open her up and get her to be vulnerable again and I always watched with admiration. I wanted to be that woman. I was very vulnerable for a long time but I craved being shut down and closed off. I could avoid getting hurt and then the right guy would come along and be the one to knock down the walls for me. But that’s not how it works. It’s a shame that so many of us lose our vulnerability over time. Experience makes us distrusting and jaded, just like I am now. But the only one who can knock down those walls is us. Maybe we’ll meet a guy who will help us, but we’re the only ones who can truly start the work.
I’m the only one who can feel like I’m enough. I’m the only one who can believe that there are good guys out there and that someone is going to love me. That they will love all of me and won’t lie to me, won’t only want to sleep with me and won’t disappear after a while. I’m not really sure how to do that right now still, but I’m going to try my hardest to get there. To get back to being vulnerable like I used to be without thinking that it means being weak. I know that doesn’t mean there still won’t be jerks who come my way, and that’s going to be the hardest part. Still feeling like I’m enough and keeping the faith even after getting hurt again. Guys aren’t really the enemy here, I am. So here goes nothin’, someone hand me a sledgehammer 🙂