I have issues.
Who doesn’t, right? I’m hard-pressed to think of anyone whose days are spent skipping blissfully through life (and if I did, I’d probably hate them), but the fact remains: despite the fact that my own issues aren’t unique by a long stretch, my 20-something lens is entirely too focused on them, and it’s driving me insane.
Let’s try for a lousy segue: once upon a time, I met someone whose personality I found so abrasive that simply ignoring them wasn’t feasible. Fact is, it’s childish to humor someone who’s very, very transparently aiming to push (stab) your buttons in hopes of grinning at your (overwrought as all hell) reactions. But I gave in, repeatedly. I liked having an excuse to be furious, to let off steam, to be nasty and short-tempered with the convenient excuse of, “YOU were looking for this, and here it is.”
Partially true: they’d been looking for passion, but likely not THAT much of it. Black Woman Problems, probably. I truly do possess other emotions, but anger seems to be the one everyone fixates on.
Anyway. When button-pusher and I somehow forged a tempestuous friendship, which steadily evolved into an equally fiery and dramatic relationship, I rediscovered one of my most unflattering aspects: I’m ridiculously co-dependent.
Picture being with someone who’s very clearly devoted to you, willing to fight for the kind of future he sees himself potentially having with you, and you–YOU–becoming clammy and claustrophobic in response, breaking out in hives at the mention of the word “relationship”, at the idea of you being his “girlfriend”, his. Possessed. Claimed. Held hostage.
The idea is completely disagreeable, then, because your mind and heart are making it crystal clear to you that the passion in your fights doesn’t translate neatly, at all, to the kind of passion that sustains a healthy relationship. It isn’t that he makes you unhappy, but your unhappiness, and your frustration, can’t help but bubble over. You’re asking yourself why you can’t have, or return, the kinds of feelings he has for you. Because if you’re incapable of loving someone so intelligent, so spirited, so good-hearted, well. You’re some kind of screw-up.
This doesn’t sound at all like co-dependence, does it? That’s the funny part. DESPITE your conflicting feelings, the one thing you find yourself agreeing about is the fact that being without him sends you into a blind panic. Not fighting makes you second-guess the intensity of the relationship, and you might not necessarily envision the kind of future he does, but you barely know what to do with yourself when texts go unanswered and his voicemail is the only thing talking back to you.
Basic, right? So easy to slip into the feeling of, “this-isn’t-what-I-want-but-it’s-all-I’ve-got-and-I-can’t-let-it-go”. Except for the fact that I HAVE. I’ve done it before, and after re-cobbling my self-esteem, stapling together enough of an emotional shield to block out the throbbing anxiety, I feel pretty good about myself.
There’s something about interacting with people from the past that causes a “reset” button to hit. This time, it isn’t the one goading me into anger, but the one that reminds me what I COULD have had, had circumstances been different. I’m second-guessing myself, and the rose-tinted glasses are effectively warping my already-crappy vision. Hindsight is unreliable.
“It wasn’t so bad that you couldn’t have made it work.”
But I felt so trapped.
“It isn’t like you have any other options.”
But I don’t want to be some guy’s story of what it was like to fuck a black girl.
“You clearly have some feelings for him.”
But not the ones I need to have.
I’m wondering if it’s because it feels like my time is running out. Because, deep down inside, my virginity doesn’t mean very much, and yet. Because if I’m being honest with myself, I don’t really want to date a guy in the church. Because my spiritual life isn’t even near where it should be, and I’m not even genuinely making the effort to strengthen it.
I can do better.