Space? Really?

The butterflies are a funny thing you know? It took me some time to feel them. I liked when he touched me. I liked when he kissed me. But the butterflies-they took a while to recognize.

In March he stopped talking to me. This was my first panic attack with him. I didn’t know how to handle it. Honestly it was the first red flag that I should have turned around and walked away. I should have thrown up my hands and screamed that I quit. That I quit so hard. Because my sanity would have thanked me. But I was attached even then and I had no idea. He told me he needed space. Which is the worst fucking thing you can say to a person. Space from what? We don’t live together. I barely see you once a week. How long does this space thing last? Do you tell me or do I give you a day or so and then you’re fine? I still don’t understand space if we’re honest-and he needed a lot of it.

Eventually he didn’t need space anymore and decided he still wanted me. You’ll notice I appeared to have no say in this decision. That’s because, like with every other situation where a decision needed to be made, I didn’t. He made those. I was expected to go along with it. And I did. But at this time the only thing I knew was that I liked the way he looked at me-like he had never seen anyone prettier and couldn’t believe I was looking back at him. It made my knees buckle. I had a hard time looking back at him when he stared at me. Those were my butterflies. They never stopped for me. They did for him if they ever started.

That’s what I don’t understand. Why work so hard to keep me when I wasn’t wanted? Why put in so much effort and I mean some serious effort. I told you how many times I tried to break up with him before he was even here. When he got here my worries may have subsided a little but the massive fear of commitment and the overwhelming trust issues I have did not flutter away. With every bit of space he needed without explanation increased my panic that I wasn’t good enough.

Yeah. That’s right. The entire time he would have me believe that I wasn’t good enough for him. Now he would say things like, “you could do better” etc etc. But I never felt like he believed it. I always felt like he thought that I wasn’t good enough. I was constantly trying to prove my affection. I was constantly trying to show how attracted I was to him. Do you have any idea how exhausting that is? How old it gets trying to reassure myself that I’m good enough? Of course I’m good enough. Have you met me? I’m fucking fantastic.

My friends knew. They knew that I deserved better but I was settling. And part of me was settling because I was terrified that nobody else would ever look at me that way. I still freak out about that. I still panic that this will be the last time I will ever feel like someone finds me completely attractive. Not just physically. Not just finds me funny. Not just. But all of it you know? Like appreciates the intensely nerdy qualities about me as well as how odd I sleep and the fact that I’m always cold. Someone who when I show them a picture they grin and go, “of course you did”. I’m terrified I won’t ever have that again. I’m terrified I won’t ever feel the same way about someone. That I want to consume all of them-I want to know and store all of the information I can about them. I want to be the reason they smile.

I’m not ready to feel that way again. I’m just not.

Put On Your Non-Judgey Glasses

Memories are the hardest part of this because they weren’t all bad. Not every moment that we spent together was awful. Actually every time we were together we had a great time. He was attentive and super sweet. That’s what made everything with the break up so hard-I didn’t see it coming. Since I’m still not ready to tell you how it ended. Let me tell you how it began.

You know those girls that have this great story about how a simple coffee date changed their life? Yeah, I’m not one of those girls. In fact, if statistics show us anything I really should have been murdered by now. My past behavior has been nothing short of reckless but that’s not really the point of all of this. The point is to tell you my story-and maybe give some vindication to the girls who don’t have a ‘cute’ or ‘sweet’ story. The girls that have to make something up when asked how they met their significant other. I’m speaking to and for them right now. For you to really understand I have to take you back. So while this all may seem self-indulgent I promise that it has a purpose. There is a plan. So tape your jaw closed, put on your non-judgey glasses, and let’s roll.

I had been dating this guy-Matt. We had an open relationship because I don’t form attachments like others wish I did. He also lived in Tennessee at the time so really why bother with monogamy? Turns out he was a total tool. We would make dates and plans and he would cancel. He’d promise to call and wouldn’t. He’d call days later. He’d disappear. These were all reasons I refused to be monogamous. In August of 2015 I had had enough completely. I was done. I decided to break down and purchase Match.com (3 month subscription on groupon!) and utilize the free service POF. Did you know that both of these things are awful? Human beings are awful. I received every comment from how to take care of my body better to exactly where I needed to put those luscious lips of mine (so many dudes are proud of really tiny dicks). I hated every minute. I hated the way it made me feel. I hated how much I depended on strangers’ opinions of me. Nothing is worse than some dude saying he is interested and then not responding to your message. Like, okay asshole, I can see you are online. I know. Am I some hideous beast that needs to be shoo’ed away from the good decent folk so as not to scare them? No. I’m pretty. And when I remember that there are supposed to be two eyebrows I’m really pretty. I have killer blue eyes, lips that form the perfect kiss shape, and a sense of humor that makes you wonder how the fuck someone hasn’t snatched me up just so they can hear my commentary on life daily. I cried. I pouted. I went on “dates” that were not dates. It was awful and I always felt worse. So I created a craigslist ad.

Oh. My. Goodness. Stop. Just wait. You know I lived. Just let me tell it. I thought about what I wanted. I wanted someone to do fun stuff with. I wanted to go to the movies, themeparks, festivals, cuddle nights, netflix, dinner, and coffee. I want affection on my terms. I wanted no strings (that’s not a real thing BTW). I wanted to be able to walk away when I wanted to walk away (also not a real thing). So I wrote an ad. It was simple. “SWF seeks FWB. Interests include all things nerdy. Promises really cool conversation and a curvy body to cuddle with. 28, 5’3, brunette with blue eyes. Requires you to be under 34 because we all have our hang ups. If you aren’t interested in chubby girls then I am not for you”. I had almost 200 dudes respond. Most were over the age limit. The others were married. I had it narrowed to 10 normal sounding dudes. I met all of them but 2. Those two creeped me out hard when we were texting and the voice over stated, “Jessica didn’t know it yet but this is how she would die”. I couldn’t have that. Too many people depended on me. I had too much left to accomplish. So I talked to 8 different guys. Weeded them out. Two remained. One came over for a movie and the other was in Japan.

The movie date did not go well. Well. I mean the sex was fine. But he made me feel weird about my body-which is never okay. He legit said to me, “you know some guys wouldn’t be attracted to you but they are missing out. I like that you have some meat on your bones”. At face value he is trying to give me a compliment. At the base of this he is reminding me that I’m lucky someone is attracted to me. Maybe I’m reading too much into it but at the end of the day it is my opinion that counts and not yours. He also hated Jack-which is not cool ever. So I dropped him. Then there was one. The problem? He was still in Japan. Yeah. Hard to cuddle with an ocean between us.

I didn’t want a commitment. I told him that he could date whoever he wanted to in Japan. I didn’t care-he wasn’t here. In turn I would also be able to. He told me he would rather wait on me. He’d be here in January/early February. Well damn. What the fuck am I supposed to do with that? This guy who I find mildly attractive but so enamored by personality wants to wait for me? Ugh. Is he already attached? “Good morning beautiful” “Sweet dreams” “Have a great day” fill my text messages. I smile when I see the green light on my phone. Which is probably why I’ve never stopped using KIK with him. I love that green light. I love that he’s thinking about me. I sigh. I groan a little. I complain and talk about it. A lot. My poor friends. They knew I wanted him before I did. I sent stupid pictures. He did the same. We talked about stupid things and things that were important. He asked me to be his. Not in that weird “it puts the lotion on its skin” way. But the “m” word that terrified me. It made him nervous too. But he wanted it. He asked for it. I thought about it. I agreed. We would put a label on this thing. We still hadn’t met. He decided on our anniversary date-November 13. Though we weren’t actually dating until December. It was the date he knew he was going to ask me to be his girlfriend. Now all I had to do was wait.

And wait.

And wait.

And worry.

What if he met me and didn’t find me attractive? What if he didn’t like the sound of my voice (as if)? What if my hair was too dark? What if my eyes were too light? What if I was too pale? What if he hates Harry Potter? What if he doesn’t like Jack? What if he doesn’t like my friends? What if I’m too short? What if I’m too tall? What if there are no butterflies? What if he doesn’t like how I dress? What if he doesn’t find me funny (again, as if)? What if. What if. What if. They filled my brain. I couldn’t take it. I tried to break up with him 8,000 times. He fought me each time. Every worry he was, “I like you.” “I think you’re beautiful.” “I think you’re funny.” “I like dogs.”

I worried.

I waited.

I waited more.

February was here. I was so nervous. What if I didn’t like him? February 4, 2016. He was in his house. He hated it here. The apartment wasn’t what he wanted. He wasn’t sure about the clinic he was placed in. The soldiers were going to be a problem. He was going to go ahead and get paperwork done the next day. So we wouldn’t be meeting for dinner like we had originally planned. Hashtag devastated. So bummed that I cried. Then a “you could come here if you want. I’m just unpacking.” I knew that meeting at a practical stranger’s house was like the worst idea ever. What if he spent the last 3 months preparing to kill me like some sort of sick thrill? What if this was his game? What if he wasn’t actually even in the Army? I never checked. I barely hesitated in responding though. “What’s your address? I’ll be there in 30 minutes. Do you need anything?” “Could you bring some bottled water? The water from the tap is gross and I didn’t pick up any.” “Absolutely.”

I stopped at the Family Dollar. I bought: leggings, a tank, pullover, white cheddar popcorn, two big bottles and one small of water. I drove to his house and parked. I took a deep breath and pulled off my dress and changed into the sweats. I wanted to be more comfortable for a night in. I grabbed the water and popcorn. I tried to remember what he looked like. I texted that I was here and knocked on the door. I prayed that he wouldn’t kill me, that he looked like his picture, and that he liked me. I bit my lip as he answered.

He was shorter than I expected. Stockier. It was something completely different. I held out the water and he invited me in. I took off my shoes because he wasn’t wearing any. I sat on the couch and watched him. He talked. I listened. I offered reasons for how things were. I told him I understood why he didn’t like the apartment-because it was actually an extended stay motel. I watched more. I admired how fluid his movements were. I watched his fingers count and put things away. I appreciated his build. He came and sat next to me. He took my hand as if he had spent months doing it. We watched the discovery channel. I took the pillow, placed it on his lap and laid down. Then he did the sweetest thing that had ever happened to me-as naturally as if it was something he had been doing all of his life-he brushed my long hair out of my face. His fingers making light contact with my cheek then reaching down to grab my hand again. We sat like that and laughed at the show. I made commentary. He laughed along.

It was late. I needed to leave. I still wasn’t sure about him but I really wanted to be. I stretched and hugged him after he walked me to the door. I told him to stay in the house-it was freezing outside and I didn’t need him to walk me to the car. He held my face in his hands and kissed me. Not passionately. Not long. But sweet. His lips light against me. His eyes closed. I relaxed completely and kissed him back. I took a step towards my car and then kissed him again. Harder. More urgency. Desperate to feel something. I wrapped my arms around his neck while his held my hips to him. I smiled. This is what I wanted. He was who I wanted. He watched me get in my car. He waved as I drove past. I grinned the whole way home thankful that he didn’t want to kill me but was real. No butterflies-those would come later.

 

 

 

But I Don’t Want To Talk About It

I’m not a big fan of regret. Duh, am I right? Who actually enjoys regret? Nobody. But I’ve yet to meet many people who go this far out of their way to avoid it. I’ve lived a (mostly) cautious life. I could teach Donald Trump how to build walls. I’ve spent so long trying to avoid the type of pain I’m experiencing now that I don’t know how others don’t just break down in the middle of the day. It’s all I want to talk about but I don’t want to talk about it.

I’m terrified of becoming “that” friend. You know what friend I’m talking about. The one that can’t stop talking about the sad thing going on and all you want to do is change the subject because you just don’t care that much. That friend that you ask how they are doing because you know they need to be asked and you are worried they are going to break down and you’re going to have to explain to the rest of your friends why you didn’t notice. The friend that suddenly gets sad for no reason. The friend that you stop inviting to things. I don’t want to be her. I don’t want people staring at me waiting for the waterworks. But I hate denying how miserable I am. But I don’t want to talk about it.

I’m not ready to completely tell the story. I will be, just not today. Because I want to talk about it. I want to tell you everything. I want you to know my side of the story and somehow justify how I could have been so blinded so the amount of wrong I was seems reasonable. So you understand how I got here. So you know that I tried so hard to make it work. That every ounce of who I was was shattered. That he took every tiny insecurity I had and exploited it for his gain and made me think it was my fault. I need you to know. I need you to understand. To feel how insignificant I feel.

Not because I want you to feel bad for me. I want you to feel with me. To bring to mind that what we do to each other matters. My feelings, they matter. So. Today I’m not ready to tell you the full story. Today I’m just ready to tell you I’m barely keeping it together. I know this won’t last forever but it is where I’m at now. And where I’m at now sucks.