Talk about your fears:
I have been avoiding this entry for quite some time, I made a promise to myself when I started this journal that I would never edit the responses, this topic in particular causes my brain to run a thousand miles a minute and forming cohesive thoughts without spiraling to another topic is tough. As much as I would like to skip this entry and pretend it doesn’t exist, it does and I think I’m ready to finally tackle it (I hope).
There are many things I fear in life; the dark, ghosts, dropping a baby I’m holding, never measuring up to my parents expectations but there’s only one thing that shakes me to the core. I am absolutely terrified of repeating the mistakes of my past. That sounds like a simple thing however it’s something I struggle with almost every day of my life. I have made many mistakes in my life, most of them when it comes to men… I for some reason cannot see the red flags when I meet someone, actually let me rephrase that: I spent the first half of my adult life not seeing the flags and now I am so hypersensitive to them I can’t tell if I am being reasonable or running out of fear. Let me explain…
I learnt at a very young age that people who should care and protect you may be the ones to let you down the most. I spoke in an earlier entry about how I was sexually assaulted twice in my life. The first time when I was 10 by a neighbor, he was a year older and someone I trusted and the second time I was raped by my boyfriend at 21 years old. When you learn that young that people can betray your trust and fail to respect you it makes it very hard to form intimate connections. There are people in your life that you are supposed to feel safe with, both physically and emotionally. I don’t have many people in my life that I feel emotionally safe around. I know I just jumped a little here but because of the assault when I was younger I never connected love and sexual activity, I felt empty and often acted out as a young adult. I would do the exact opposite of what my parents asked or expected of me. It then became a vicious cycle of “oh that’s just Steph being Steph” or “Why is everything so difficult with you”. My father always jokes that I was the kid who would touch the hot stove at least twice just to make sure it was hot, never could take someone’s word for it or only get burnt once. It’s an ongoing joke in my family that I’m the difficult one, the one who can’t get out of her own way but sometimes I wonder if they even realize how bad it truly is.
I don’t trust myself, I don’t trust that I will make good choices, and I certainly don’t trust my own gut instinct. I spent my whole life trying to prove that I know what’s best and each time it backfired. My parents have been supportive financially and they think they have been emotionally although to be honest both my parents have the emotional range of a teaspoon. Empathy and patience is not something that was huge in our house.
When I was engaged my parents would ask me if I was making the right choice, “are you sure this is what you want” and I was so pig headed to prove to them that they didn’t know me and I knew what’s best that I ruined my life. My ex husband was abusive, mostly verbally but it sometimes became physical, he would throw plates and cups, usually with food on/in them so I would have to spend the night scrubbing our kitchen or trying to get stains out of the dinning room rug. He would blow through our savings, sometimes not come home, other times lock me out of the house or our bedroom before work so I couldn’t shower or get clothes. I resorted to keeping clothes and shower stuff in my car and going to the gym in the morning when necessary. When I filed for divorce he was angry, he racked up 15,000 of debt on my credit card out of spite, he refused to sell his portion of the house to me. I met with my lawyer and she said I had 3 options: 1) live there with him as a roommate 2) leave and hope he pays the bills 3) let the bank foreclose on the house and he would be forced to leave.
I remember I cried for hours leaving the lawyers office, I wasn’t raised that way…to not pay my bills and what about my credit score? I finally realized option 3 was my only choice and we defaulted on our mortgage. About 3 months later he looked at me one day and said “You want this place? I’ll sign whatever you want”. I wanted to kill him, what bank would give me a mortgage after we defaulted on this one and he just smirked and said “cant say I didn’t offer”. He was vindictive and knew exactly what he did. He took great pleasure in hitting me where he knew it would hurt the most. He destroyed my self esteem, my credit score, I know it’s unfair to blame him like I was some perfect angel (I wasn’t) but he had all the control in this situation and it was terrifying. I spent years of my life walking on eggshells, throwing up every time I opened our bank statements, scared to say the wrong thing, terrified to tell anyone what was happening behind closed doors… hoping he would be the man he was when I met him…before he became an alcoholic. To have someone who at one point loved you hate you so much that they take joy in your misery is one of the most painful and lonely feelings in the world.
I know it seems I got off track here but there was a point to that, I am beyond afraid of making the same mistake in choosing a partner. I would not survive that a second time nor would I have the support I had from family and friends. As I said before my family was supportive financially and tried to be emotionally but they often make comments without realizing how hurtful it is. They assume because it was a bad marriage I should be fine and be happy I got out. Don’t get me wrong, I am happy I got out but I still have to mourn the fact that my life isn’t what I had always pictured. I spent my whole life idolizing my grandparents, parents and aunts who all only got married once. The people who celebrated 75+ years of marriage and I will never have that. I’ll be lucky if I ever get to the golden 50 year anniversary at this rate and even then I feel like it’s tarnished. I feel like anyone I meet romantically I have to explain that I’m divorced and hope they aren’t judgmental. I have to sugar coat how bad it was in the generic conversations so as not to seem so damaged when in reality it changed the entire trajectory of my life.
I am a victim and a survivor of abuse and that comes with a lot of baggage. It comes with the inability to trust a person’s intentions. It comes with anxiety of never feeling good enough, the constant fear of people changing who they are the second you’re hooked. I have since dated 2 men after my divorce and both were cheaters who put on the “nice guy” act. I guess deep down I knew but my gut instinct is so far off I can’t even trust it. If a guy is too nice to me I panic and run for the hills finding something inherently wrong with him. Then I end up with men who start out great little red flags here and there but ultimately they are scumbags.
I’m afraid to waste my time with the wrong person, I am 32 years old and at this point I’m terrified that I wait too long to see someone’s true colors and the next thing you know I’m almost 40, going through menopause and end up the old lady with cats. Then the other spectrum…I run from every person because I’m so hypersensitive to the flags that I miss out on amazing people because I’m scared. I don’t know which outcome I fear more.
I get so angry with myself for not trusting my gut, and for not believing I can make the right choice. I am at war with my heart and head everyday and I have to admit it’s exhausting. I second guess every person’s intentions, I never become vulnerable. I’m so torn between giving people everything I am for that genuine connection and keeping everyone at a distant because at least when they leave I’ll still be left whole.
I’m afraid I am going to miss out on the best parts of life because I can’t get out of my own way.
That might be the saddest and most true sentence I’ve written in years….to know what the problem is, know that it’s you and have no idea how to even begin to fix it, it breaks my heart even as I’m writing this. I made choices in my life that I am still paying the price for, both emotionally and financially. I don’t know how to forgive myself for that and I fear without forgiveness I may be destined to have history repeat itself.
**You’re always one decision away from a totally different life**