Ever get that knot in your stomach when you feel like you have a big decision to make and no matter which option you pick, someone loses?
My evenings of late have been filled with self-doubt and insecurities.
I don’t know how it happened, but somewhere between age 18.5 and 29 I learned to see only my faults and not my strengths. I don’t remember being this insecure about myself during middle school or high school. Oh, I was awkward, to be sure, but I knew that and didn’t really care. I knew my place and I fit into it pretty well.
I don’t know when it started exactly, but I know that for the past few years I’ve struggled with accepting my life as it is. I made stupid choices early on in my adult years and I am stuck with the consequences. I know myself: I know what I am capable of and what I will never be able to do. I know my limitations and talents and I see them with sharp clarity, not through the haze, blur and shine of ego and superficial compliments of those around me.
So it is with this “clarity” that my evenings turn dark and I start an internal struggle. A struggle where I feel a pain deep in my stomach when I “know” that “Brad” deserves someone better than me. I know what he is capable of, what his talents are, what his passions are. Logically, he should be with someone who can keep up with him, who doesn’t get a puzzled look of confusion on her face when he talks about his passions, who will be able to help him pursue his dreams because she’ll know the right things to say to encourage him to push harder, someone whose post-high school education matches his, someone who hasn’t hit the ceiling in the workplace before the age of 30, someone who’s actually living her dream instead of barely living day to day, someone whose self-worth is not measured against the amount of skin-to-skin contact she gets, someone who can go to Detroit with him whenever he does and not only see the world he lives in, but be a part of it.
At night I “know” that I am not right for Brad.
But the thought of letting him go find that girl just about kills me. I don’t want to let go. Last week I replayed a fictional scenario over and over in my head, one where Brad was more hurt in that car accident than he really was; the thought of him being in that much pain (physically and emotionally) brought instant tears to my eyes. Just knowing that I couldn’t hold him, let him cry in my arms, comfort him in whatever way he needed caused an ache in my heart. Brad was, and still is, going through something tremendous and I am far away. This is the longest we have been apart since we started dating, even with all of his trips for work. My brain tells me that it’s too soon to be feeling all of this. My brain, not my heart. My heart leaps with joy with every “good morning” he sends me. My heart pounds a little harder that moment I see him for the first time in a week. My heart stops for a second when I breathe in whatever smell it is that makes him him. My heart feels his pain. My heart knows that Brad is right for me, that we have some connection that I haven’t had in any relationship thus far. My heart knows how he feels without needing him to express it.
It seems I have been listening to my brain more than I have my heart. Because my daily life revolves around logic, not feeling. Feeling doesn’t pay the bills, put food on the table. Feeling lately seems to only lead to tears. Tears for Brad and his friends, tears for my grandparents who are not doing well, tears for my parents who are struggling with my grandparents, tears for a friend who just lost her dad. And when my “logic” kicks in, I “know” that Brad deserves someone with fewer tears in her eyes.
But don’t I deserve someone like Brad? Brad who in the midst of his own turmoil is still there for me. Brad who has stayed in this relationship in spite of the emotional roller coaster I’ve experienced with this pregnancy. Brad who already has a special handshake thing with my daughter. Brad who brings me flowers and chocolate and patient hugs when I have done nothing to earn them. Brad who has examined and re-examined his beliefs and convictions because of me. Am I not entitled to a future of happiness that I know he can give me, because he already gives it to me?
Why must I struggle with this? Why can’t I accept that Brad loves me for me, as he’s told me so many times before? It’s not that I don’t believe him, I just think he doesn’t realize there’s better out there.