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Saturday, January 12, 2008A Second Affair
I recently heard someone say that there are two great love affairs in every person's life. The first is the romantic love affair that we all romanticize about. It is the song in the car, the romantic movie played each weekend, the fairytale book, the hand-holding in the park, the stars in our eyes...I could go on and on. This is the more recognizable of the two.
The second is the love affair that we have with the outside world. It is need to feel recognized and loved by others. It is social acceptance. It is the ego in all of us needing to be stroked (who of us has a MySpace page? Blog? Vanity license plate?).
Both are equally complex; with heartwarming experiences and moments of heartache. However, it is this second one that I'm having trouble with... Mostly because, this second one goes straight to the root of my insecurities.
From my early years, I can remember always trying to please people. As most of us do, this stems from not wanting to disappoint our parents. Through growth and experience, we begin to recognize whose opinions and acceptance of us matters and whose do not. ...This is where I feel my world became warped... I value strangers opinions - probably more than I should. And when I step out into the world, my day is full of mini pep talks that tell me, YOU CAN DO IT, THEY'RE NOT LOOKING/JUDGING/CRITICIZING YOU, ONE FOOT IN FRONT OF THE OTHER... This is truly exhausting (you have no idea!). But this is what I struggle with everyday.
This problem has mostly been something I've wrestled with, internally, for a long time. I finally got to a point that I realized if I wasn't trying to be perfect for my family - that would be okay. I would not lose their love and I could actually enjoy things a little more. (I know this might sound crazy to many of you...) Well, now that I've dealt with that struggle, I have to turn my attention to the outside world. I am well aware that not everyone is looking at me in the Starbucks, in the grocery store, in the parking lot at work, in my car, or anywhere else. Yet, my crazy head tells me so. Every action is guided by what others may perceive of me. -This is quite a fearful way to live and takes a lot of energy. This is my constant pursuit of perfection as defined by the outside world.
The only real place that I feel as though I can "let go" and really be me is in the safety of the walls at home. (But, I have to admit, I don't fart out loud or stink up the bathroom since living with someone. I can't let that part "go" as much as I may want to.) Thus, I consider myself a home-body and am perfectly content to stay in on a Friday or Saturday night.
However, I know this is not a healthy way to live. I also know that it is really hard to have a romantic relationship with a person, let alone the rest of the world, by practicing to be a hermit. People like to go out; people like to be with other people; people don't mind meeting strangers; people don't care what kind of underwear I have on today. But for me - I think of going out as another exhausting pep rally; that other people will judge me; that strangers will form opinions about me; that if I sit wrong in these jeans, others will see if I chose the g-string or the bikini undies. Ugh, I'm tired of just thinking about it.
Trying to have others understand this behaviour is next to impossible. I tried to explain it to Blair (again) a few weeks ago. There were many, many tears. Although I don't think he quite understands it, he's trying. There have been a few more questions and conversations, since. He has told me he loves me FOR all these nuances and that he still puts me on a pedestal. (All I think of is how far will I fall when I get knocked off that pedestal?) And while I'm glad he is being so accepting of my weirdness, I really hate that I'm weird. I don't know how to "fix" this thing (dare I call it a phobia?) and I've tried therapy. I SEE what's wrong and I KNOW what I do... But how do I make a healthier change for myself? How do I truly accept that striving for perfection is an unattainable goal (no matter how sub-conscious)? How do just let things go?
Writing this is, of course, hard. I hate that I have this freak flag to fly on my "Most Normal Girl" page (ahh - trying to be something we are not?). In my left pocket is that grain of sand that reminds me I am tiny, insignificant, and a pee-on in the universe. In my right is the badge of honor that reminds me I am the greatest thing in the universe. And in between my left and my right is ME. Weird ME who would love to face each day with a little less fear and a lot more love for that second affair.