I wish I could write that I’m finally happy because I’ve met the perfect man. I’d pen eloquent borderline long-winded sentences about how different he is than the rest. I’d describe the subtle nuances that eventually convinced me that our relationship, against all odds, would be the one to stick.
I’d also be one hell of a liar.
While he is different in many ways, his distinctions are in no way the reason why our romance continues to linger. While he does those little things and says those silly things, my seemingly endless affair with underrated contentment relies on someone else.
Now that I am in the throes of a healthy relationship I have realized how horrible a girlfriend I really was. In fact, I can almost feel the collective nodding of my tortured ex-boyfriends’ heads. Call it growth or maturity or some existential realization but simply put: I’m better.
I’m a good girlfriend now.
Before him I was narcissistically stunted. Under the guise of an endearing brokenness I allowed myself to stay infatuated with a tainted past. Never fully in the moment, I’d project what once was onto what could have been, ruining any possible chance at a normal relationship. Something was always wrong because the very real possibility of something actually being wrong was overwhelming.
I was self-loathing to an almost pathological degree, consistently assuming I was lacking some quintessential girlfriend characteristic. I would constantly convince myself the man I was dating would leave me for someone who can’t wait for marriage, instead of someone who, at the very thought of marriage, cowers in the corners of her suspicious heart like an abused dog. Sooner or later he’d prefer a girl sans daddy issues, without the affinity for whiskey or the constant need to write down her incisive thoughts.
Someone, you know, normal.
Whatever the hell that means.
So I’d either become emotionally unavailable or emotionally slutty. I’d retract into myself, completely incapable of being reached by even the sweetest of words or the most romantic of actions. It was never enough because I was never really there to enjoy it. I was somewhere else, where pain is numbed and misery is muted. I could smile at the appropriate times and nod when it was necessary but even the most consistent of men couldn’t bring me back to the present.
Even with presents.
Or I’d require endless conversations, exhausting in their very nature. They’d go on for hours, circling on top of themselves as reality gave way to my dangerously impractical anxieties. If they wanted a break I’d tell them they didn’t care enough to continue talking. If they started to yell I’d swear they were one syllable away from walking out the door. And still, I’d push. In fact, I’d push them so much that when they did leave I was relieved instead of regretful.
Now, this isn’t to say every soul-crushing relationship was solely my doing. My ability to pick appropriate men was like my ability to cook: nonexistent. Are you emotionally stunted, completely incapable of sharing your feelings without a six pack of beer? Hell, lets move in together. Are you inherently needy, seeking constant validation from the opposite sex? Well I’ll be, lets move in too! Do you lack the ability to be a decent human being and, oh I dunno, not sleep with our neighbor? Fantastic! Let me fall madly in love with you for untold years to come.
But, to be fair, I didn’t pick the best because I wasn’t being the best. The girlfriend I was directly contributed to the boyfriends I had. They may have been wrong for me, but lets be honest: I wasn’t right for anyone either.
So, why the change? I can’t really say. Perhaps I was tired of the bars and boys and disappointments.
Maybe I just grew up. I hear that happens.
Or maybe I had hurt and been hurt sufficiently enough to actually learn. When you realize the only person you can really control in any relationship is yourself, the necessity for self-evaluation becomes discernible.
Simply put, I was finally ready.
And while I still have daddy issues and an affinity for whiskey and the constant need to write down my incisive thoughts, those parts of me are no longer overwhelming. My past is still capable of creeping into my present on occasion but it can be stifled, and my narcissistic tendencies are bridled, to at least a manageable degree.
So now I’m the girlfriend that can enjoy the little things he does and the silly things he says and the numerous ways in which he’s different.
I’m the girlfriend that can adore the subtle nuances that convinced me that our relationship, against all odds, will be the one that sticks.