We understand how dangerous a mask can be. We all become what we pretend to be. – Patrick Rothfuss
For the first time in this blog I’ve chosen a quote that explains everything I cannot. I’m 36 years old and I wear more masks than a kid’s Halloween party. The problem I have is I’m too scared to take them all off. Without them I am nothing, I have no coping mechanism, no face, no identity.
So I thought I’d write a post about who I really am. So many posts come across powerful, strong, doing it, that I fear the reality will be far more disappointing. This won’t be an easy write, nor will it be an easy read. I am good at self pity, at woe is me, to get the sympathy and positive comments – I don’t want this to read that way, but it might so I’ll apologise for that now – as that’s what I always do, apologise.
I’m sat looking in a mirror. I’ve just woken up so I’ve yet to choose my mask. My hair looks shit, I dyed it myself and however much I convince myself it looks good I hate it. My forehead is full of frown lines and I have panda eyes because I couldn’t be arsed removing my make up properly last night. My boobs are not where they should be and my arms are fat. For some reason my legs are covered in bruises and my thighs are way chunkier than a girl’s should be. I slouch, my shoulders are always dropped and my head bowed.
It’s very easy to critique the physical. I’m covered in stretch marks from 4 kids and however many times I say they are the stripes I earned, I don’t believe it. I hate the stripes I earned and the saggy mess of a stomach I’ve been left with. I know for a fact that I can lose weight and tone up but that requires a time and effort I convince myself I don’t have.
So how do I critique the non physical. Ok, I see sat before me a 36 year old who needs constant reassurance like a 4 year old. Constantly looking back to see if someone is watching her, constantly waiting for the next instruction or next round of praise. Yet when I do get praise or compliments I hate it. I yearn to be the centre of someone’s attention but then crumble when I am. I’m a complete paradox.
Attention for me equals love. If someone takes their time to talk to me or compliment me then I’m winning and I will grasp that person with all my might and smother them. Because I want them to instantly know that I’m such a loving and giving person that they can’t live without me. This very often leads to complete rejection and that is a cross I cannot bear. Rejection has become so normal to me that I assume I’ve done something to deserve it so I look to those who have weathered the storm and ask them what it is I do to deserve the rejection.
No one ever answers. I can only assume it would be like kicking a puppy. The only way a puppy learns is by making its own mistakes and rectifying them. I do know what mistake it is I am making, I just don’t want to admit it because then I admit that I am not who those who have stuck around think I am….and the thought of more rejection is too much to bear.
I’ve never had a best friend. Or, in my eyes I haven’t. Reality check is I definitely do. I model my ‘friendships’ on what others have, and when I don’t have that I assume it is because I don’t have friends. Instead of not worrying about why they haven’t called for a while, I spend days trying to work out why I’ve put them off. When they do text I try to work out the tone, are they pissed at me?
I define myself through others wanting to be around me, or thinking of me. I always think of my friends – if I see something I know would make them smile I’ll get it for them. But then I expect everyone to be like me and when they aren’t I ask myself what it is about me that has caused that. Does that make me self centred? I don’t know – maybe it does, assuming it’s something about me rather than just human nature.
I’ve been let down so often in the past, been replaced so quickly in both friendships and my marriage, that all I can see is a need to be so amazing that people won’t want to replace me. And I can be. I can say and do all the right things but when I think I’ve nailed it I overthink it and become clingy, needy, paranoid that the replacing is going to happen. For example, I met a really nice guy. We got on really well. Helps that he is fit – but neither of us are ready for a relationship. Despite in my heart knowing that, I felt completely rejected and that made me want a relationship with him just to be wanted. My head convinced me I’d been replaced, he was chatting to someone else despite saying he wasn’t interested in meeting anyone. My bravado said so what, his loss, but my 4 year old wanted to know why? Why didn’t he want me? I must have done something wrong.
Luckily, those feelings passed but I do still question why. I’m still convinced it is something I can change. It seems, however, that I need to get a grip. I need to learn not to care. Not to place my self worth on other’s opinion of me. Not to assume I’ve been rejected, and instead look at it as a learning curve, that those people were not designed to be part of my sphere. It’s going to take a lot of time – I don’t know how to lose the bravado, I’ve had it so long that allowing my vulnerabilities and weaknesses to shine through scares me a lot. I’m not ok, I’m devastated that my marriage fell apart, I’m devastated that I’ve been the one left without the love of a partner despite not being responsible for the marriage ending. I’m devastated that my ‘perfect on the surface’ life is no more.
So now I have to learn who I am. I’m vulnerable, I hate confrontation, I cry if I think I’ll get into trouble. I’m fiercely loyal but I expect others to want to be fiercely loyal to me too and when they aren’t I look to myself for the reasons why instead of being able to appreciate that not everyone thinks and acts like me.
What others think of me is none of my business so why does it matter more than it should?