The Good, the Bad, and the Neurotic

TL;DR: I am sorry I haven’t been on much, been processing some things and it’s not been easy. I’ve been depressed and under stress, making it difficult to be creative.

I wasn’t going to put anything about this on the forum but… It sounds pretentious, even though it is true, I really wish someone had exposed me to some of these thoughts when I was a young man. I think it would have made my life a lot easier, my father while an amazing man and a good father is also ill equipped to talk about his feelings. His father before him didn’t know how and my dad doesn’t know how either. His love language was providing my sister and I wish what we needed, working hard to provide a home. Work hard he did, very hard, his entire life like so many father’s out there.

Still he didn’t know how to communicate a lot of things to me, he just didn’t have a language to do so. I don’t blame him for it, he did the best he knew how and no one can ask anything else of a person.

To the point though. I’ve loved my girlfriend for a while now, we’ve been seeing each other for about a year and a half now and she’s been amazing. Some hiccups, on both sides. I failed to plan her birthday at all when I had promised to / she’s had some serious problems with drinking that we’ve been able to work through together. When we got together she told me she wasn’t built for monogamy, she told me how she had cheated on every man she’d been with even having tried not to. I have issues with that statement, a lot of them. I believe in self control, setting yourself up for success, and that if a person really wanted to do something they could do it. I have also learned that I’m a failure at doing exactly that. I don’t have a lot of room to judge other people.

I have some experience being in an open relationship and denying someone something they say they are not built for. For all of my problems with Jen one of the biggest problems we had was that she wanted to be open, she wanted for both of us (not just her) to be able to have sex with other people, see other people, just always come home to each other. I said no, a hard no. I told her there was no possible way I could deal with that and I patted myself on the back for sticking up for myself. It was a mistake, wasn’t the life she wanted to live. Serious damage was done from that, I was just too self centered and unwilling to consider why I couldn’t deal with it to engage. I have many regrets where Jen is concerned but that’s on the top 5 list right there. She loved me enough to try to change though. Even recognizing that failed many times, she did try.

Avery not only wanted sex from another man, Jeremy, but to go out to dinner and let him buy her things. She knows my finances are not such that I can easily do that – she doesn’t seem to mind that but does like being bought things. This makes me very uncomfortable. Money is part of how worth is measured and I’ve been terrified that Avery will want that life with him more than she wants a life with me. This lead to something I had been trying to avoid; the undeniable truth that I had fallen complete and hopelessly in love with her. I had tried to keep her at a distance, held back, tried to maintain my own space, my own self, but she’s pervasive (she says she’s insidious) and a good fit for me.

Jen left me for a man with more means, while she told me she was just seeing him. Another girl, Becca, left me for another man – we were open, her and I, but she went to Nashville with a guy she wanted to get some carnal enjoyment out of and came back to tell me that she didn’t want me anymore. Hell my very first girlfriend of any kind ended it by saying an old and familiar line for me – “I love you, but I love him too, I can’t give him up. Could you just be ok sharing me?”

None of this is a poor me kinda thing, this is just highlighting some pitfalls I’ve had in the hopes that other people can read this and maybe avoid them.

The truth of the matter is that while breaking up hurts, someone leaving you for another person hurts, it’s relatively inconsequential. There is the bigger issue. I know that I don’t mind if someone else is happy doing other things and on a lot of levels sex is just a thing you do – it’s fun and feels great. With Jen I refused to talk about and consider how to come together in the middle and have an honest conversation, with someone who (at the time) would have really tried to move heaven and earth to try and figure something out. Becca and Natalie (Natalie being the first girlfriend) showed me in other ways they couldn’t be trusted and that they would not work with me. I just didn’t want to see it.

Why? Why didn’t I see it? Why did I shut Jen down and close a very important line of communication forever? Simple. Fear. I was afraid.

With Jen I was afraid that if I let her do it, she would leave me for sure. Why? Because I thought it was worthless, lucky to have someone anyone love me. As a side, but no less important, note; one of the biggest mistakes I’ve ever made (and the hardest to change) is this idea that Jen was coming to me asking for permission. There was nothing to let or allow or give permission for her to do, she was trying to open a dialogue telling me something she felt she needed to do to be happy. I framed it internally as requesting permission and as me having control – I did not have the authority to do either of those things. I was positive that if she went and slept with someone else or went on a date with someone else or anything the would leave me in a heartbeat. A lot of things were her fault, so many things… So many things my fault… So much happened. Even so, it is an eyeopener now that she tried to make me happy and stayed with me for 20 years. I wish I’d had more faith in her and (more to the point) in my own self worth. My lack of self esteem and self worth destroyed our marriage long before she saw Ryan or anyone else for that matter. I was weak and refused to even try to get help and work through my issues. She tried to tell me hundreds of not thousands of times that I needed to see my own worth and I would be happier, even if we collapsed as a couple, I was worthy and valuable as a human being and didn’t need her to validate me at all. We could have talked, worked on issues, and she could have been happier. I would have been happier too.

Becca and Natalie were different stories altogether. Becca showed me time and time again she put no value on staying with a single person, not only that she was in a relationship at the time – she lied about it being open. I was married but Jen actively told me to go find a girlfriend because her depression meant she couldn’t emotionally support me at all, and I was unhappy. Becca lied a lot, lied about her husband being ok with being open, lied to friends about us being involved, expected me to lie for her. I felt so worthless and such that I failed to see these as signs and thought it was the best I would get. Not that it felt that way at the time, it didn’t. At the time I framed it mentally as she needed some things from me, while I didn’t like them – I had to go along with them or she’d leave. I didn’t want to be left. I did not see my own value as a partner. Natalie was very similar, the saving grace there was we were children compared to now. Teenagers make a lot of mistakes and Natalie lied a lot too, keeping a secret relationship hidden from me until I figured it out and confronted her. Still same thing goes, I felt I had to do it because I wouldn’t get anyone else. Internally I framed it as doing something for someone I loved… It was bullshit. It was fear.

So why am I saying all of this? Why should anyone care?

I don’t think these issues are unique. I truly wish I’d been able to start working on self esteem and self worth when I was a teenager. I had no language to even describe to myself why I felt so worthless, I wish I’d been able to talk to my parents but I couldn’t. I also don’t think they’d have known what to do if I had. The truth is that while I’m now actively working on internalizing my own self worth and that I have value outside of being accepted in a relationship, it is really hard. It would have been easier 25 years ago, when I was young before I formed a lot of really bad habits.

So I’m posting all of this here, not so people can feel bad for me. I made my own bed and now I’m laying in it. Trying to make my life better. Instead, I think everyone needs to understand that they have to work on validating themselves and loving themselves. I know my friends here are having hard times, most of you all are younger than I am by a long shot. Find someone to help you with it and accept that things can change if you change them. It’s never easy but it’s a lot easier to do and life can be a lot better if it’s done younger. Don’t even get trapped into the feeling that you must do something because you’ll never find better or you were lucky to find love once.

Anyway… That’s why I haven’t been around, trying to wrap my head around everything that has happened recently and it’s good… Avery has been as truthful and up front with me as anyone could ever ask. I think it’s time I slayed these demons, she listens to me and helps me see things differently. I’m in love and for the first time in my life I truly believe not only that I am loved but that if I work hard at it, I can love me too.

If I’m worth it. So are you.

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