After Scruff broke it off with me, I tried to convince myself that I was okay.
No matter how it actually went down, the outcome was still the same: our situationship had ended. We were both no longer interested in each other and were free to move on. Yet, I felt like I was emotionally paddling above water, just enough to keep my head over the waves that threatened to pull me into a deep depression. I kept telling myself I was fine, it was fine, we were fine, this was fine, everything was fine.
Until I finally caved and realized I was not.
The waves of depression and despair crashed over me and I sank into the dark thoughts that had been threatening to suffocate me for a long time. I was demanding more from Scruff, but what if I actually wasn’t worth it? What if I never found someone who’d love me the way I wanted to be loved? What if I was unlovable?
What if I was going to be alone for the rest of my life?
Ever since I had broken it off with Brett two and a half years ago, I’d made it my mission to figure out why my romantic relationships never lasted longer than a few months. In the years since, I realized that I wasn’t choosing the right men, was afraid of intimacy and was letting red flags just slide on by only for them to become a problem much later. I thought I’d done a lot of internal work and was on my toes with self-awareness. But I couldn’t help but wonder if there was something else.
What if, at the very core of all my relationship woes, the problem was still me?
I tried my best to reject this line of thinking and to convince myself that it wasn’t my reality. Yet, the proof was staring me right in the face. I had asked for more and had gotten swiftly rejected. Not just by anyone, by someone who claimed to know me and love me. Someone who’d told me multiple times that I was the one. The minute I wanted more he decided it was time to throw me away. Like it was nothing.
Like I was worthless.
Hopelessness and depression surrounded me like quicksand. The more I thought of all my past failed relationships, the deeper I sank. Scruff didn’t think I was worth it. And neither did Peanut. Nor Blue Sweater. Nor Brett. I started to wonder if they had valid reasons.
I started to wonder if they were right.
Right after Scruff had broken it off with me, I became a little obsessed with Clubhouse. It was the highlight of my very bleak days and dark nights, and served as a thorough distraction from my emotions. Whether people were talking about dating or nailing interviews or television or astrology, I delighted in listening to live conversations and marveled at how my mom and I weren’t so different as she moved around the house listening to talk radio from Antigua every single day.
It was in a Clubhouse room where I got the biggest download of my life (so far). I’m not a stranger to downloads. They usually pop up for me at the most inconvenient moments or the most unexpected places. Clubhouse was one. While listening to some women talk about dating, one was explaining that we attract certain partners for a reason. I’d definitely heard that before so it wasn’t news, but then she went on to say, “There’s something that person or type of person is giving you that you really want which is why you keep seeking them out.”
I tuned out and wondered about that for a minute. Ultimately, my issue with men was that they didn’t give me what I wanted. So how could this be true? Did I crave not being listened to?
I always thought that communication and being listened to were my biggest problems with men. But thinking back on the men I’d dated, I noticed there was something else they had in common that I didn’t realize at first. Something that they gave me that I didn’t even know I needed: They made me feel better about myself.
Peanut wasn’t that attractive, which in turn made me feel attractive. Scruff hadn’t graduated from college, which made me feel accomplished. Brett didn’t really have a career, which made me feel a lot better about mine. Every guy I’d dated in some way I viewed as ‘lesser’ than me, which made me feel like I had the upper hand.
Which was seriously fucked up.
I had no idea I was such a hater. But the facts were before me and I couldn’t ignore them. I wasn’t dating to settle down, I was dating to boost my ego. I wasn’t dating to find my equal, I’d been dating to find someone who would worship the ground I was walking on. I was dating men who I felt better than, who I thought should have felt lucky to get my attention. I was expecting them to put me on a pedestal and would get confused when they didn’t.
But why? Why was I blindly following this horrible, subconscious pattern? I put myself in a scenario (I have a powerful imagination so this always works). I imagined myself at a restaurant or a bar or somewhere social pre-covid. I imagined there was a man there who was exactly what I was looking for; tall, attractive, smart, charming, successful, good listener, the works. I imagined him walking up to me and introducing himself, and I asked myself what would I do? What would I say? How would I feel?
And the first thing that came automatically to mind, almost like a reflex, was well, why would he be talking to me?
I did what I always did when a big realization hit me: I froze. The women on Clubhouse kept talking about other things, but my mind was reeling with this new information. Even in my own imagination, I didn’t feel good enough for the type of man I wanted. The power of that hit my chest and I started to tear up. With sorrow, with compassion, and with relief.
I didn’t feel worthy. It made so much sense.
I know the cliche love advice. I know in order to find love, you have to feel worthy of love. I just didn’t think it applied to me. I thought this entire time that I did feel worthy, even though my actions begged to differ.
I didn’t feel worthy. So I chose men who’d make me feel better. And they reinforced the unworthy feeling. Rinse and repeat. Over and over. I was caught in the same cycle.
And I felt… so grateful. Because simply knowing was a lot better than not knowing. At least, now the frustration of dating the same type of man had a source. Now, I could take the steps to find my self-worth, to feel worthy of love and to unlearn my terrible patterns. Now, I knew exactly where I was below the waves and could make a plan to get back to the surface.
And to think, it all wouldn’t have happened without Scruff being kinda shitty. In a way, I guess I could thank him…
…But I won’t.
It looks like I’m still on track to meet my soulmate very soon. And, honestly? I don’t think I’m ready.