Once upon a time, many years ago, there was a little girl. And inside of herself, she knew that she was great, and she was strong, and she was smarter and more creative than most people. This was reinforced to her verbally, by her parents and other adults, but the world at large told a different story.
She was separate from the other kids, because she had a disability. And it wasn’t an “obvious” disability, so it just made her seem weird. Her talents were not visible ones either: they lay in quieter expressions. She wasn’t an athlete, or a musician or someone who sang on stage or scored winning goals. She was awkward and she always, always felt a divide between her and the rest of the world.
When she got a little bit older, she started to get a little bit more reinforcement from her peers. In the way of adolescents, it had nothing to do with her, but rather what she looked like. She was pretty and attractive, though of course she thought she was fat. (Let’s pause for a second so my 40-year-old self can go back in time and slap my 17-year-old self. Really.)
She discovered there was a lot of power in being attractive, and she had no problems using it. Being attractive meant being wanted. It gave her a little bit of confidence and she marched forth with it, and this confidence also attracted other people: not just boys, but people. People who seemed to like her, who enjoyed her company, who were impressed by her mind and who seemed to love her. She reveled in this. And she now had something else that was part of her: she was a good friend. In fact, she was a great friend. And that, too, gave her confidence.
Somewhere along the line her ability to attract physical attention and her ability to make friends wasn’t enough, because what was always missing was what everyone wants: romantic love. Her one love story ended when she was left for someone who, clearly, was more worthy. And so, she still felt inadequate and she still felt as though this disability was what divided her from all of her friends who were falling in love, getting engaged, planning weddings.
And one day, someone was interested in her. And he was not unattractive, and he seemed stable, and he treated her nicely and he was smart and had a good sense of money. Just like that, she settled because it seemed to be what she needed. And this person didn’t seem to care about all of her flaws and imperfections–yet. She didn’t love him. She always knew that. In later years, she thought she did. She forced something called love to be born out of habit and comfortability and sex. But she didn’t love him.
And that, my friends, is the simple answer to the question so many people ask me: how did someone like you end up with someone like him? Well, because I didn’t think I deserved any better.
Obviously, if you haven’t picked up, the little girl was me and the “someone interested” was PC. So you put together a cocky yet wildly insecure budding narcissist with someone who is a great actress but feels like she is not worthy of the same happiness others seem to have. Is it any wonder it was a recipe for disaster?
For 17 years, PC fed that. He fed my insecurities, my self-doubt. He constantly pushed me down. He constantly reminded me, subtly in the beginning and flat-out bluntly in the end: no one else would put up with you. I told myself I didn’t believe him, that he didn’t mean that, that he was just drunk. But of course, I believed him because I already believed that about myself. I pushed myself to become a better wife and honestly? I was a great wife. I was lonely, yes. But it didn’t matter because I wasn’t alone. I had “somebody”, a faithful husband (hahaha), a home, children, financial freedom, a life. Who in the world was I to want more?
When PC left for Trollup, he took what little confidence I had and incinerated it. Now, I really was alone. It was clear that PC was a motherfucking asshole…and if PC didn’t want me, who would? But in the manner of my life, my army of support rallied and continues to rally around me. They build me up. They make sure I’m not alone. They’ve fed me, they’ve paid my bills, they’ve babysat my children. They listen to me talk and infuse laughter and they love me.
Still. There’s that divide. Enter wild and crazy romance out of the blue in the form of The Plumber. Suddenly, for a hot moment in time: all of that bad stuff goes away. The feelings of inadequacy. The fear of being alone forever, a spinster with 14 cats and an alcohol problem. The feelings of being unworthy and less-than. And just like that, bam.
There it is again. The root of my issues, all issues, comes in quietly and invades something that I wanted so badly to keep close to my heart. To not entwine with outside influences. To protect and keep safe this sweet goodness in the shadows of my heart. Then, and only then, will I really feel whole.
Except. Of course. That’s bullshit.
The Plumber actually loves me. It has nothing to do with what I look like, or how I present myself, or what I do for a living. He has seen me at my worst, when he was literally just my plumber and nothing more than an acquaintance. He listened to me cry one night, when he was just barely my friend, over the heartbreak of PC ruining my son’s birthday. He saw my mess long before I knew who he was, and he comforted me out of compassion, because I’m a human being who deserves that. He does not care about this divide between us.
I can feel all of this, and I can see this when we are together, I can read it in his words: but when time goes by and it’s not reinforced, I start to doubt myself yet again. And so life’s lesson here is for me to somehow be okay enough to trust that and wait. Wait for the curveballs to reach the end of their trajectory. Wait for chaos to settle. Wait for divorce papers to be signed and wait for time to be free.
In the interim, I suppose, is when I must figure out how to feel the same way about myself that everyone else in my life does. I’m not a little girl anymore; I know better. I’m not with PC anymore, and I have to find ways to put a boundary up so that his words, his demeaning insults and demands and psychotic nature cannot hurt me. I know I have an endless line of support and I have two kids who are an extension of me.
But I have to figure out how to truly know this in my core. To believe it. To trust. To master the art of being alone. To master the art of taking care of myself. To stop feeling as though this divide means anything outside of my own perceptions. To do the work so that in the end, PC and the Trollup are not going to be what defines my life. To walk out of this battle when the means are no longer justifying the ends…both the battle with PC and the battle within myself.