The one complaint I’ve received from every partner I’ve ever had is that they never feel good enough for me. Not only am I an overthinker, I also incessantly worry and battle constant fears that—despite all evidence to the contrary—I am not loved. When these fears rear their ugly heads, I look to my partners to “fix” them for me, constantly bringing every concern I have to them in hopes they’ll change to make me feel better. On the healthy side, this makes me extremely sensitive to my partners needs as well as my own and passionately committed to doing all I can to create the best relationship possible. On the unhealthy side, this can manifest much like obsessive compulsive disorder because of the way I feel that every fear must be spoken of immediately, every negative emotion must be fixed as quickly as possible.
I once wrote a poem about this, which lists actual journal entries from a two year relationship. It includes things like: “She didn’t answer my text; I feel like she doesn’t care. She got off the phone early; I feel so rejected. Why hasn’t she kissed me? Why is she sitting so far away? Why is she so quiet? Why did she make that face? Is she angry? Is she happy? Is she sure? Is she confused?” These are the types of the things that go through my mind, constantly. The things I want to talk about and want my person to fix. Text more often, talk longer, kiss me at every opportunity, hold my hand, sit next to me AT ALL TIMES. No wonder no one ever feels good enough. I’m much like the unwise woman described in Proverbs 41 who “tears down her house with her own hands.” And so, my therapist is now helping me learn an important lesson:
I must allow myself to be uncomfortable.
I’ve written about this, before, but it seems a lesson I keep returning to over and over again in various ways. I must allow myself to accept the feeling of discomfort. To recognize that not every thought must be acted on, not every fear must be fixed. I try to be patient with myself. After all, I adopted this fear as a response to trauma and in an effort to avoid pain, and it is as much a part of myself as all the good qualities I have. But I must also learn that this fear is not allowed to control my life. As Liz Gilbert said in a letter she once wrote to fear:
“I acknowledge that you believe you have an important job to do in my life and that you take your job very seriously. Apparently, your job is to induce complete panic whenever I’m about to do anything interesting, and may I just say, you are superb at your job. So by all means, keep doing your job, if you feel you must. But I will also be doing my job on this road trip, which is to work hard and stay focused. And Creativity will be doing its job, which is to remain stimulating and inspiring. There’s plenty of room in this vehicle for all of us so make yourself at home, but understand this: Creativity and I are the only ones who will be making any decisions along the way. I recognize that you are part of this family so I will never exclude your from our activities, but still – your suggestions will never be followed. You’re allowed to have a seat and you’re allowed to have a voice, but you are not allowed to have a vote. You’re not allowed to touch the road maps, you’re not allowed to suggest detours. You’re not allowed to fiddle with the temperature. Dude, you’re not even allowed to touch the radio. But above all else, my dear old familiar friend, you are absolutely forbidden to drive.”
I am learning–slowly, haltingly, and with quite a few bumps in road (and the help of a partner who has been much more patient than I deserve)–to drive.