I remember a time when meeting someone who was just as damaged was a bit of a relief. Everyone walking…
I had to have been around 21. Our little group of hoodlums sat next to a table of adorable girls in the booth adjacent to ours. We exchanged glances and eventually numbers, and that was how we made friends. Over the next few months, we each paired up with someone. Some for a weekend, some for a few months, and some long term relationships. Nothing new or crazy but there was one girl that I thought was it. The kind of person you meet and you can’t get off your mind no matter how hard you try and close your eyes at night. You imagine what presents you would buy her for Christmas and wonder if you would spend Thanksgiving with her parents or yours. That simple yet heavy infatuation that is usually saved for idealistic young people who have yet to be jaded by the awful humans parading as respectable boyfriends and girlfriends.
Due to some complications, we didn’t progress as fast as I would have liked. Months past where I was waiting around for her and some months where she was waiting for me. All the while, we stared at each other longingly but remaining just far enough apart so that we managed to build a serious emotional connection but never could turn it physical. Eventually, the day came where we both were single and available and ready to make it a reality. The excitement and expectation was so heavy, I thought there was no possible way it would ever be as good as I had built up in my head but that first kiss felt like a warm shower and the first bite of a pizza. The way she moved, her confidence, her body – it was all too much for me to handle. And unfortunately, there was still a solid 10 years between me and the beginning of my journey to understand my damage and slay my demons so my insecurities and lack of confidence made me cower in fear. I never let her see though. Hell, I never let me see it and it wasn’t until relatively recently that I realized that she was too good for a rotten and directionless kid from the wrong side of the tracks. Or, at least that’s what was raging through my subconscious. She was so far out of my league that when I held her hand or when we kissed, it felt wrong. Like I was taking advantage of someone’s naivety. It was off and I could never simply relax because it just never felt “right.” And she was the first woman, in a series of many to come, where I pulled away and ruined a good woman’s year because I couldn’t look in a mirror and be okay with what I saw.
It took years to make this realization, and even longer before I could admit that I needed help if I was ever to learn to love myself. But one of the few things I took away from this is, I can now spot it a mile away. Insecurity dripping from false words and transparent displays of bullshit confidence. Like what you might hear in clubs and bars, the immature bravado people project into the crowd sings of daddy never loved me, mommy was a petty asshole, my friends like me for all the wrong reasons, and I’m afraid of being alone. And while we all have our monsters to slay, the real tragedy is that most people will never try to, let alone acknowledge, the very issues that prevent us from letting love in.
No one is perfect, and much less so when you’re a confused and obnoxious 21 year old boy with abandonment issues and a head full of unresolved abuse. But what’s worse, is when you’re a grown adult who is blind to their own potential to ruin the hearts of others. And what’s even worse than that, is an adult who is well-aware of their destructive power and who projects years of well-articulated emotional manipulation. Like the most evil wolf that ever lived who burrowed into your life under the guise of a hero, a savior, and the most perfect human you could imagine yourself eating Thanksgiving dinner with.
Those evil manipulators are all around us. They search for people who look like the easiest targets and they are well-aware that the best victims are those who are so desperate for love and affection they are willing to overlook red flags and excuse emotional abuse. And odds are, you will run into a few more in your life but it’s not your fault you will fall for their well thought out words and glances. Because the mark of a good person is that you’re not yet willing to believe everyone is evil. Never let anyone snuff out your hope and faith in good people and a fair love. And I don’t know if anyone has ever told you, but you have absolutely no obligation to live up to anyone’s standards but your own. But if you ever want to find real and true and genuine love, you have every obligation to look into the mirror and figure out what the hell is wrong with your head and your heart, and to lie in bed at night and let the demons come. To let the loss and abuse and regret sink in deep. To cry and shake so violently that it scares you.
Because that’s how you let it out
to make room
to let the love in.