The guy I dated in college would sometimes complain that with me, something was always wrong. Why can’t you just be okay for a while, he would ask. I felt that the real issues were never being resolved, and that’s why things kept coming back.
In the last year I have gone through a lot of pain, and a lot of struggle, so there clearly has been a lot to deal with. But as I examine the emotional struggles I have on a deeper level, the ones that feel like they’ve been growing for years, I realize that yes, for some reason I go through a cycle that inevitably brings me back to being anxious and burdened.
Tonight I have been going through old writing, things from high school, the first year of college, and the early days of dating my ex. And what’s remarkable is that the very things I am dealing with now I dealt with then. Yet for some reason I have this lingering belief that what I’m working through now is new and unique.
In journal writings and poetry from my high school years there is deep loneliness, a harrowing ache to love and be loved, and a desire to be seen by other people instead of hiding in inauthenticity.
In my writing from the early days back at BYU there is residual ache from a previous breakup. There is hope that I can move on and love again. And after I began dating my ex, there was a knowing presence of that past love, the fear that it would not heal while ruining the present love, and the underlying fear of being hurt again.
There is a hypersensitivity to the opinions of others. There is a feeling of being outcast. There is pain, loneliness, and dreaming achingly for a love and a future that doesn’t exist, when I can finally live happily. There is a lack of purpose. There is a lack of confidence. There are dreams of becoming someone who can do a great work. There is a yearning to finally make it over this monster of a burden that holds me down to finally be free and strong.
It is clear that I did not fully learn the lessons I was presented with at that time. Because I’m repeating it. I’ve almost forgotten those past feelings, but they were real, and were practically identical to the feelings I have now.
The obvious lesson to learn here is that doing what I did before would be a mistake. It didn’t work then and it won’t work now.
But what to do?
I want to be okay. I just want to feel like things are fine, that events in my life are not catastrophic, and that they do not threaten my worth as a human being. It’s like I’m continually stuck in survival mode.
I’m tired of being in crisis. I want to just be okay. Why can’t I just be okay? Why does everything have to be a potential threat to my being? I feel like I’m constantly battling to defend from people who will hurt me.
I read through old letters between me and the girl I dated freshman year of college. The dynamic feels a lot like the one I had with my ex. I’m repeating relationships. Or perhaps I’m repeating how I interact in relationships.
I feel like part of the patterns of the last 24 years is an inability to establish my own boundaries. I have been at the mercy of others for years. In relationships I have no say on how things go. I only take initiative when I have permission. I don’t get to say no. I don’t get to have a say.
Perhaps that is what I will focus on for the next while: creating and establishing better boundaries. At least it’s something I haven’t tried yet. You know?