Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Streaking Across the Field
In a conversation about my recent decision to open up, a friend of mine commented, “you’re the emotional equivalent of streaking across the field at a baseball game.” I laughed. A lot. Then I realized he was absolutely correct. Recently, I’ve been incredibly forthcoming about my life, my struggles, my thoughts and feelings. What’s amazing to me is the number of people that I never suspected were reading my blogs who are commenting on it to me. Not only are they mentioning it, they’re telling me how much courage I have for telling my story and how much they respect what I’m doing. Wow. Who knew that telling everyone you have a condition that makes you feel crazy at times could get so much respect? I’m truly grateful to these people for reading my posts and being supportive. It means more to me than I can express, and it’s helped me to continue revealing my thoughts and feelings throughout this journey.
Despite all of this, there’s one subject I’ve steered quite clear of, and that’s my relationships. I’ll mention my divorce here and there, or the fact that I was in a relationship that ended at a certain time, but I have not delved into the details. For those of you who are expecting some romance novel-esque admissions here, I’m sorry to disappoint. There’s a reason that I don’t go in depth into my relationships. It’s one thing to put myself out there for the world to see, but it’s not fair to bring out the personal details of someone else, especially without their consent. Instead, I bring this topic up for an entirely different reason – it is the first time in twelve years that my world hasn’t revolved around a man.
One of my biggest strengths, in fact perhaps my greatest, is my loving and giving heart. While I don’t have patience with myself or with life in general - I’m working on this – I have incredible patience with the people I care about. I forgive, I try to forget, I apologize even when I’m not necessarily wrong because nobody’s perfect and we shouldn’t constantly hold against people the fact that their human. This lends itself well to being in continual relationships, because I’m always getting to utilize my greatest strength. However, it doesn’t necessarily lend itself well to finding myself because I’m often putting the other person first, and I’m always tied to someone else. I was someone’s girlfriend, fiancé or wife for 12 years. I re-arranged my life to fit someone else’s. In fact, in many ways, that defined me. I listened to “x” type of music because my partner did. I partook in “y” type of activity because it was important to the person I loved. I had “z” type of impression of myself, because that’s what the person whose opinion I put my stake in told me. I wasn’t being false, I was just adaptable and often vulnerable, and I put a lot of faith in the men that I loved. For clarification, let me add something – it’s not that it was all give and no take. I loved and stayed with each of these people for a reason (well, probably multiple reasons). However, around the time I turned 23 years old, my cyclothymia, which had given hints of its existence my whole life, seemed increasingly determined to show its ugly face until I was finally diagnosed just before my 30th birthday. During this time, I was struggling to understand myself, and therefore I relied a lot on those around me to define who I was. Not on morals and values (I’ve always been very firm on those), but on just about everything else. Quite simply put, I lost much of my sense of self.
Now, at the age of 32, I’m not someone’s girlfriend, fiancé or wife. Not that I disliked these roles - there were some very happy times, and I have never believed in regret, so I wouldn’t have changed anything. But truth be told, I’m not particularly looking to be any of these at the moment. It’s not that I’m bitter or opposed to relationships or to meeting someone that I could share my time with. But right now what I really enjoy being is me. I find that I actually really like myself. Go figure! I love my openness, my quirkiness, my own style and musical tastes (country music IS great, I promise!). I also find that I’m reconnecting with old friends and making new ones easily. Possibly, it’s karma (I don’t believe in fate), but more likely, it’s that the more “me” I am, the more I draw people to me. This may sound conceited, but I don’t mean it that way. Rather, it’s a bit of an eye opener. As you discover who you are, you become more confident and comfortable with that person, and this in turn allows you to meet (and keep) people who you truly value and discover a life that you fully enjoy.
I’m not 100 percent back to myself. Honestly, I don’t think we really ever are. Life is a growth process. If we came out of the womb knowing everything we ever needed to know, life would probably be pretty damn boring, and we’d probably be really obnoxious to the people around us. There are parts of my life that I’m still confused about, and I do work every day to push down the negative and boost up the positive. My condition, without any say from myself, can switch my day from great to “ugh” in a short amount of time, and sometimes I just have to deal with it. Still, I am amazed at how just being myself, with no expectations from a significant other and no need to fulfill some essential role in their life, has changed me. It allows me to have faults without feeling sorry for them all the time and without constantly trying to “make everything better” (if you know me well, you know that I’ve always been a chronic fixer and over-apologizer, and truly, I think that's just ingrained in my heart). I don’t have a total wall around myself – I don't say, “I refuse to get involved with anyone, no matter how great they are” because, to be honest, that type of closed mindedness just isn’t me. You never know where life takes you, and I believe in never saying never, but it's just not a goal at the moment. I do hope that once I am fully comfortable with who I am, that I’ll be able to get into a relationship in which I can truly be me and he can truly be him. Until then, though, I am content to emotionally streak across the baseball field, with my best assets and biggest faults out there for all to see, enjoying the moment, and just being me.