I used to have some pretty naive and idealistic views about love. I can admit this.
Not sure where they came from, because I didn’t really see any examples of these ideals growing up except maybe in Hallmark movies. Most of the relationships I witnessed in person were filled with arguments and frustrations and a lot of strife intermixed with some joy and minimal romance.
And yet, I held onto the belief that my ‘one’ would one day show up and see past my awkwardness and horrific fashion sense and see the beauty underneath. He’d be perfect for me. And he’d love me as if I were the most precious thing he’d ever seen. His fire for me would never go out. We’d be kind and gentle and oh-so-perfect for each other. Always. Effortlessly.
I also, for a short, but very painful time, believed that if it was right … if it was love, real deep magic love … that you couldn’t fuck it up. The love would be too powerful and would overcome all obstacles, no matter how many mistakes you made.
What. Tha. Fuck. Whyyyy did I think this?
Ahhh yes, now I remember where these ridiculous beliefs came from. The church. True love waits. When God writes your love story. Blech.
Oh, how woefully, wonderfully wrong I was.
I mean, seriously. How naively hopeful and blissfully ignorant could I have been about love?
Of course you can fuck it up. Everything — every SINGLE thing — is fuckupable. And that includes love.
But that’s honestly a good thing.
I think perhaps I originally took solace in the idea that I ‘couldn’t fuck it up’ mostly because I struggled with this deep, pervasive fear that who I was — my anxiety, my need to communicate in depth about my emotions, my drunken snores, my lack of cooking prowess, my miserable fashion sense, etc etc — might be too terrible, too odd, too strange to love. And that’s where that statement might offer some peace. It took me a long time to realize that the things that make me who I am will not fuck up my chances for real, genuine love. No, my little weird oddities and my particular brand of neuroses will honestly be the thing that draws the right person to me.
If it’s real love, who I am can’t fuck it up.
But what I do … my choices … those can certainly fuck things up royally.
I am dating someone right now and it’s gotten very serious, very quickly. And it feels … eerily right. And this scares me. I’ve known him for years, we’ve been in the same social circles but we were never close friends. We’d honestly barely spoken in the five years I’ve known him. But one night recently that changed. And it’s been a very surprising turn of events.
We’ve commented on how fast this has been going multiple times. During one of our earliest deep conversations about our pasts, he stopped me to say, quite earnestly, “I don’t want to fuck this up.” And I looked at him and said the exact same thing.
Because we’ve both fucked things up before. We know this.
His issues? Not being open and honest with previous partners. Not communicating. Not being all in out of fear. He’s been incredibly open and honest and forthcoming with me about everything. He’s realized that his lack of openness and vulnerability was what likely wrecked previous relationships and he knows he doesn’t want to do that with me.
My issues? Crippling anxiety that leads me to self-sabotage. Anxiety may seem like a light-hearted, timid, meek sort of thing. Like a nervous wreck of a being, shivering in the corner, ready to scream if you so much as say hi. And while sometimes that metaphor might ring true, the majority of the time that’s not how anxiety is with me.
Oh no. My anxiety is a raging bitch.
Anxiety has, in the past, caused me to spin out, fill in the gaps with very negative stories and ultimately assume the worst ad nauseam. Anxiety has caused me to end things prematurely and often repeatedly. Anxiety, when I listened to it, would make me believe the worst possible scenario as truth and nothing anyone said or did would convince me otherwise.
I’ve written about my anxiety before, with dating. But the truth is, I’ve struggled with this for longer than I can remember. When I was younger, I just didn’t know what to call it or what the affects of it truly were. In high school, I suffered from panic attacks my senior year. My heart would race and I’d feel terrified and inconsolable. My mom had to pick me up from school during the middle of the day on multiple occasions. I just thought it was stress from taking on too much my senior year. But while some of it was due to that, a lot of it had to do with the voices in my head telling me why I wouldn’t succeed, what everyone must really think of me, etc etc. I would be nervous in social situations, fearful of almost everything. The littlest thing would set me off into an emotional tailspin.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve dealt with anxiety and overcome so many of it’s pitfalls. I’m confident in my career and in my life for the most part. I am no longer a wallflower in social situations. I know how to calm myself when I start to feel overwhelmed in group settings or at work. But with relationships … with the parts of my heart that are the most tender and scare me the most … I have yet to truly overcome anxiety and it’s negative effects.
But anxiety isn’t the issue. It’s how I respond to it. I may never be truly free of anxiety, however I can work on how I allow it to affect me. I can self-soothe and choose to tell myself another story than the negative one anxiety wants me to attach to. I can talk to my partner about my anxiety before it spirals out. I can choose to trust in the good of things and in the good I know I’m capable of drawing into my life.
I can’t choose to not have anxiety. But I can choose to do the work every day so that I lessen the hold it has on my life. And when it comes to this new, blossoming relationship, I can practice welcoming my emotions (even anxiety) without attaching to them.
Here’s what I’m learning. The fact that it IS fuckupable is making me tread ever so cautiously with this new thing. Yes, it’s moving fast and normally that would send me spinning into the abyss but, while I have had some minor anxious moments, I’m learning to pause and sit still and take a wait-and-see approach. I’m not the best at it, but I’m getting better. I’m learning to trust him, slowly but surely. He’s gentle with me. Understanding. He’s struggled with anxiety too and doesn’t take it lightly. He listens to me and holds me when I need to be held. And I am learning the healthy way to share my emotions and filter through my anxiety without running from him or pushing him away.
At the end of the day, I know no matter what I will be ok. I will be ok if this doesn’t work out. And I will be ok if it does. The sun will rise and it will set, and all will be well … and I can trust in that, despite my raging bitch anxiety that keeps telling me otherwise.
This thing with us is completely and utterly fuckupable and that is a good thing. That is what makes all the difference.
If we couldn’t fuck it up, there’d be no reason to do the work on ourselves to make this or any relationship succeed. And it’s the choice to stay in this and do the work, no matter how scary, no matter how uncharted, no matter how many times we’ve been hurt in the past or how many times we’ve fucked things up before, that makes it so magical.
So here’s to the fuck-ups trying super hard to not fuck things up. Let’s see where this goes.