Every now & again you have an opportunity to rewrite your history. Here and in real life, I’ve been rewriting the last several years of my life, coloring it in rose and amber. It’s time to knock that off.
Since we split, I’ve made a point to defend my ex (maybe it’s not too harsh a term after all) as a great guy who wasn’t right for me. In some ways he is a great guy, but when it came to me he often wasn’t. Yes, there were happy moments. Still, I’m astounded at how many cruel phrases I tolerated and internalized. Ashamed, really. I never thought I’d let anyone get away with treating me like that. I thought was stronger and smarter than that.
With our wedding anniversary looming, memories have been coming back in little flashes, shocks. Things he said when he was angry, hot and cruel enough that I once insisted he see someone who would help him stop speaking to me that way. (He did, shortly before his father died. At that point the sessions changed course, understandably. In his memory his father is the reason he went in the first place; he doesn’t recall the need to stop being wicked to me.) His refusal to interact with me unless it was on his terms, which got worse as the years went on. The way he didn’t seem to like my company unless he was intoxicated. The times he said he didn’t like my company unless he was intoxicated.
As soon as I was free, I went back to the safe space I’d carved out before we met: I started sleeping with old friends. (It’s a small-town thing. Ahem.) It was easy, but any sign of tenderness made me want to run. One friend called out my name; another wanted enough light to see my face. I balked. Every time.
Then I tried to date (which yes, past tense). New people were kind to me, wanted to spend time with me, tried to impress me, even. Someone told me I was beautiful, sincerely, and I realized I hadn’t heard that in a long, long time; my ex had cried and said how pretty I was when I set the first foot out the door, but that isn’t the same. The attention threw me, all of it, it was so positive and genuine. I hid inside that Woody Allen cliché, not wanting part of any club that will have me as a member.
Now here comes the rest of it, the longest-standing issue: my inability to form stable meaningful attachments. It’s probably the doozy of my life. I usually gloss over it as fear of commitment, but it runs far deeper than that. And that’s probably enough for now. More self-absorption on the subject soon. Up next: childhood development, as lived by me.