Not Enough

(After seven miles of “therapy” at midnight…)Image

I cannot get this thing right. I can’t make it work. It is the thing I crave the most and yet it is the most elusive element in my life.

Oh. I could find any old boyfriend. But I’m kind of picky. That’s one of the reasons there haven’t been many relationships. I’m interested in good men, smart men, funny men, gainfully employed men. The other big reason is men are not romantically attracted to me. And when there’s the slightest hint that a relationship might be growing, I lose my fucking mind and scare him off. I can’t help it. When I feel things, I feel them intensely. So if I’m excited and hopeful, I’m REALLY excited. I can be a lot. And I can be needy. And anxious. And self-conscious. And just too, too much.

Therapists say that people who were sexually molested as young people often are stuck at that age as they attempt to engage in relationships later. Maybe at that age we just turn off our sexual development and maturity to stay in control and feel some kind of safety. I don’t know if that’s true, but the math works for me. I was 14 the last time I was sexually abused and I act about like a 14 year old in budding relationships. I bake cookies. I send text messages with little ❤ hearts. I give handmade Valentines with smiling hearts and x’s and o’s. I’ve never learned to play the games you’re supposed to play. I’m just nice and sweet. I’ve never learned how to keep my mouth shut and keep my feelings to myself. All I know how to do is tell him how I feel and what I think. And that never, ever, ever turns out well.

I’m not really asking for too much, I think. But maybe I ask for too much emotionally. I don’t know. I just want an exclusive boyfriend to hang out with, to go out and do fun stuff with. I want someone who will listen and hear and remember the important things I say. I want a man who can communicate with me. I want a man who can be honest with me. I want a man to be sweet to me and surprise me and make me feel special. I want a man to hold my hand. I want a man to hold me. I want a man to kiss me. I want a man to make love with me. I want a man I can rest with and be myself. I want a man to tell me, “Relax now. Rest here with me. You are enough.”

But instead these are the things I hear and the things I “hear.”

I’m not in the same place you are. (Goddamn, you’re needy!)

It’s not you, it’s me. (It’s you.)

You are awesome! (But you’re not pretty.)

I should be chasing you. (But I’m not.)

Do you know how incredible you are? (But you look like a boy.)

You are a good person. (But you’re not enough.)

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3 responses to “Not Enough”

  1. delilahsearchingfordirection says :

    I’m with you. You’re not alone, and you deserve a man that wants and loves all of you! I tell myself that every time I date a guy who gives me one of those lines… We deserve the best. You deserve someone who can give you all that you’re looking for, because you’re worth it and have a lot of love to give. 🙂

  2. Thomas H. Jones says :

    This is very painful to read. In reading your blogs and your posts on FB, it would be easy to assemble a long list of very positive attributes to describe you. In fact, read the comments on the post, everyone loves you. Why do you unmercifully beat yourself to death? No one is perfect. And anyone who expects perfection is to be avoided.

    You can safely ignore the comments that invoke God or Satan. To do otherwise will simply misdirect you and dump you into some wasteland of cosmological, metaphysical speculations about whether life and, specifically, you have some purpose in being here in the first place. Best here to call up Occam’s Razor and to refrain from unnecessarily multiplying entities in search of an explanation.

    There seems to be an inherent but necessary duplicity in life, an illusion that it will provide what is needed. Expectations, real or imagined, are what keep us going for life’s sake but not necessarily for ours in particular. And attaching a positive or negative value to those expectations–something we all do–can be a trap, especially in relationships since we have no way to control all the dynamics involved.

    I’m trying to remember being 45 years old. I had already been divorced. No real recriminations. We were both sufficiently astute to realize that we were going in different directions. But, of course, I couldn’t help feeling that I had somehow failed, even though I knew that failure was not the issue. For, surely, she had failed me as much as I had failed her, but this was pointlessly playing the blame game. It is a mistake to enter a relationship believing that it will somehow fill those gaps that you think need to be filled.

    “I bake cookies. I send text messages with little ❤ hearts. I give handmade Valentines with smiling hearts and x’s and o’s. I’ve never learned to play the games you’re supposed to play. I’m just nice and sweet. I’ve never learned how to keep my mouth shut and keep my feelings to myself. All I know how to do is tell him how I feel and what I think. And that never, ever, ever turns out well."

    It is not a game of chess that culminates in "Check Mate." No, it never turns out "perfect," persistently perfect. That's the stuff of fairy tales. There are no rules. Do these things because they make you feel better. But your partner may perhaps feel guilty that he's let you down somehow, not played by your rules. So there's that caveat.

    "I’m not really asking for too much, I think. But maybe I ask for too much emotionally. I don’t know. I just want an exclusive boyfriend to hang out with, to go out and do fun stuff with. I want someone who will listen and hear and remember the important things I say. I want a man who can communicate with me. I want a man who can be honest with me. I want a man to be sweet to me and surprise me and make me feel special. I want a man to hold my hand. I want a man to hold me. I want a man to kiss me. I want a man to make love with me. I want a man I can rest with and be myself. I want a man to tell me, “Relax now. Rest here with me. You are enough.”"

    That's asking for quite a bit in my experience because he's probably entertaining the same thoughts. And just how does one manage this? Your turn to be everything I want in another person? Just in practical terms how does a couple manage this?

    Let's suppose our lives are little more than a narrative that has no predetermined end, but unfold day by day. Enter a relationship and the narratives merge. Still no predetermined end, though. Things just become more complicated. You are now living for two, etc. It's scary and messy. That's the pessimist in me. The other way to look at it is how much predictability and order will satisfy me.

    You have an agenda or checklist that you look for in another. Good luck with that. Best to just concentrate on who you are and put it on display as honestly as you can. Don't get ahead of yourself. You'll get some nibbles, and then you'll anquish over whether you want to reel him in. It's important, though, to understand that the "other" may be doing the same. So don't beat yourself up. There is no predetermined end to our narratives. Try not to live that narrative in the subjunctive mood.

    You are clearly a special person. I wish in saying this that I could somehow make you feel better. But it doesn't work that way. I have no pop wisdom or experience to offer you. When I was growing up as a young man, my mother was always aking me if I was happy. It was a tough question since by nature, I suppose, I was always desirous of being in some other state of mind, in some other place, in a realm where everything made sense and seemed to cohere. So I would become agitated and defensive when she would ask me that question, like she knew of some vacancy in existence that escaped me. It was only years later that I realized it was her own unhappiness that prompted the question. She wanted me to have what she imagined she didn't. My mother is dead now, and I will never know why she was unhappy. From my perspective, her life was a fairy tale. She lived nearly 94 years and managed to avoid most of the tragedy of life. It was just something she was always chasing after, some fantasy she could never catch up to. My doctor of many years died about 18 months ago. I really miss him. About 40 years ago when I first started seeing him he told me something I will always remember: "You know, Tom, there are days you'll wake up and just feel like crap. They'll be other days when you'll feel like it's great to be alive. Get used to it. It's not a formula. But, if it gives you any comfort, you're not the only one dealing with it."

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