More accurately, I’m thinking about how people treat me *and* how I treat myself.
Recently I’ve met someone, and he treats me very well. He’s respectful, thoughtful, kind, funny, smart, and he thinks about me as an important part of his day. I think he had my heart somewhere around the time I jokingly said, ‘you are even on my side when you’re working against yourself’ in response to a comment he made, and he replied that there are no sides. I hadn’t thought about how what I had said sounded, but he had, and he wanted to let me know we were on the same side. I love that he is that person. I love that he is helping me see that I deserve to be treated like that and be with someone who aligns himself with me and lets me do the same. We’ve talked about our love languages and our work, about our families and our past relationships, about our dreams and what we want out of the future.
All of which is wonderful, and it also scares the holy h*ll out of me.
He recently went away on business, so I was speaking to him less and in that space all the little gremlins snuck into my head and told me all kinds of things that had been true in my past relationships. It’s been hard to ignore them. They are sneaky and they know me well, and they are not quiet or subservient. They know how to get my attention even when I don’t want to give it to them. It’s happened to me before, I start to get doubts and then before I know it, I’ve blown everything up.
This time I am consciously making different choices. I’m choosing to shut down the gremlins. I am consciously choosing to let go of the fear that I’ll be mistreated or lied to. I am tired of protecting myself so fiercely that I never let down my guard and I never let anyone in. I am choosing him over fear. I know how I want to be treated and I am being treated that way, so I’m going to stop listening to the gremlins and just let myself be loved.
Which scares me at a level that makes me want to run away screaming. Every instinct I have is telling me I don’t deserve to be treated like this. Because I never have been. None of my exes were abusive, thankfully, and none of them stole from me or hurt my friends or family. Yes, things happened which hurt me, and I’m sure I’ve caused my fair share of hurt for people as well, but never to the point where I couldn’t recover. But here’s the thing. The breakups that hurt the most and the longest were the ones where I had to let go of how I saw myself with that person. And each time I left a little bit more of myself on the cutting room floor trying to fit in better, be what people wanted so I wouldn’t feel that pain again. But it always happened again. And again, and again.
In the past year I’ve finally started to see myself as someone who deserves to be treated well and with respect and patience and kindness, etc. but because it is so freshly acquired I am having trouble reminding myself that I have value and if he sees that value that is great but if he changes his mind, I’ll be ok. And then I catch myself planning for the inevitable end because I’m sure he’ll get to know the real me and decide I am not someone who deserves to be treated with love and kindness.
All of which scares me to the point where I feel like a deer in the headlights…except that I don’t want to live in fear anymore. If he decides we aren’t a good match, I will survive, but I’m not going to plan for it. I’m not going to keep from putting my whole self into this relationship because I want to keep one foot on solid ground. I’m not going to give up before I’ve had a chance to feel that heady mix of hormones and sweetness and the taste of a first kiss. For the first time in my life, I want all of that more than I am afraid that someone will offer it and then take it away.
When I stop and think about it, I know that for the first time in my life; I am going to treat myself like I deserve to be treated. With love and kind gestures and thoughtful words and patience. I won’t leave any more of myself on the cutting room floor to fit in better or to be more like I think someone wants me to be. I have done enough of that. Through the process of writing this I have decided that not only am I silencing the gremlins, I am silencing the ‘but what if’ reactions and the fear response and the shrinking to fit into the tiny spaces where someone has room for me after the important things in their life have taken all the prime real estate. I deserve better. We all do, actually.
So here’s hoping that all of us find the feeling of joy and kindness and love this holiday season, from ourselves as well as from others. When you stop and think about it, we all deserve to be treated like we matter and we have value.