Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Everything That Used To Be

It must be hard to be my boyfriend.

For one, I'm obviously needy. Yeah, well, so what? Big deal. At least I admit it.

And two, I carry a lot of baggage. Baggage that my boyfriend is forced to unpack on an almost daily basis. He knows my luggage so well, in fact, that he recognizes it. He knows when I've found a stray knapsack of something and am threatening to run with it. He sees it. He calls me on it. But, first, he tries to avoid letting me find it in the first place.

Billy's aware of most of what transpired in my relationship before him. He knows there were good times, and he knows there were bad. He also knows that I'm terrified of a reincarnation of the bad times.

He reminds me, from time to time, "I'm not him. I'm not that guy." And I have to remember that. But it's hard sometimes.

You live your life being disappointed for so long, eventually, you just give in to it. You spread your arms and fall backwards into deflated hopes and extinguished expectations. And you don't bother trying to pull yourself out, or convincing yourself it'll be different, because you know some things never change. Death. Taxes. I'll be disappointed. It's that easy. And, now, when you see even a glimmer of a possibility of the disappointment that came before, you sigh, "Here we go again," and fold yourself into sorrow before he even has a chance to prove you wrong.

You're wary of being built up because you know what it leads to. You think promises of the future are just fairy tales, offered purely for the sake of keeping you quiet in the now, nevermind what's really in store for later. It just serves to make you shut your trap. You find yourself really, truly happy, and you stop dead in your tracks and look around you. No. Wait. This isn't right. If I'm this happy, it means that something is about to be taken from me, or broken, or both. I can't be this happy without some sort of addendum. There has to be a catch. And you just stand there and wait for the hammer to drop. And if there is, in fact, no hammer, you look for it. You scrutinize the way he holds your hand, how he kisses you, how often he calls and look for proof that something's missing. That things are about to change. Because, obviously, you are not allowed to be this happy for long.

You hate Valentine's day because it's never been anything but a day that makes you cry. You always cried on Valentine's day. Always. Because you thought "Okay, this year, things are going to go alright. I'll get flowers, or dinner, or a card or something," and you were always left with nothing. Okay, you got flowers from the Grand Union and dinner at a chain restaurant. And the one time he took you to a cute, local restaurant, he decided (again) to take you without calling ahead to find out if they had seats available, so you ended up sitting at the bar and eating crabcake appetizers for your Valentine's Day dinner. You just knew that he never took your feelings into consideration. That even though he loved you, you never really meant enough to him for him to treat well. He was always late picking you up, always, but not because he was held up at the office or anything. Because "time got away from" him while he was on the computer doing God knows what, and he let you sit and wait and wonder and worry. And the tears built up in the time between when he said he would be there and actually showed up, threatening to ruin the eyeshadow you so carefully applied to your lids in preparation for the evening. But the tears didn't actually spill from your ducts until after you got home. You got through dinner, and you got through the drive back to his house. But as soon as you got into your car to drive to YOUR home, they fell. One after another. Another year, you thought, that I've spent crying. Maybe, your mind continued, it'll be different next year.

So I know how Billy must've felt when he called from work last night to tell me he'd be late, that there was no way we'd make our 8:00 reservation. He apologized, hoped I wasn't mad, and said "I know you've been let down in the past."

And I love that he knew that, that it mattered to him that I wasn't let down yesterday. So we went to dinner when he got home. He made sure we went out, even though it was after nine and he was exhausted. Because he didn't want me to be disappointed. And I wasn't. I loved every minute of it.

But he just seemed so weary. I try to tell myself that, because he loves me, he's willing to make sure I'm happy...But I'm terrified of the thought that one day his patience will just wear out. That he'll get sick of handling me with such care to avoid a meltdown or my running away. That he'll grow tired of reminding me that he's not the guy who hurt me, that he's not in the business of hurting me.

And I'm trying so hard, so hard, to not hold him accountable for what happened to me before he came along. I'm really doing my best to separate the hurt of yesterday from the wondeful man I have today. But it's just so fucking hard. I live with all of these scars that threaten to pop open at any given second. And I tend to them daily, fighting back the insecurity that seeps out, the doubt that festers, the fear that infects them. But sometimes it just takes so much to nurse them that it gets away from me. And it's then that Billy picks up the gauze and helps. It comforts me, to know he's there and conscious of how I feel. But now it's fostering more fear. What if he gets sick of helping?

I know I probably sound crazy. Maladjusted. Needy. Fucked up. And maybe that's all true. But you find someone for whom you would do or give anything, you want to make sure he's happy too. And you worry that your peccadilloes are standing in the way of him being as fulfilled as you are. Because, most times, I forget the wounds are even there. I can live every day with him knowing I'm loved, not worrying about being hurt. And then one fucking rusty edge of a feeling gets exposed, and I'm back to licking my wounds.

This post will probably come down shortly. I'm only posting it because I need to get it out of my system.

Besides, I feel like this is even more personal that I usually get. I feel pretty naked right now. And I'm not a big fan of being this vulnerable.

4 comments:

kate said...

we're all disappointed in some way or another laurie, but the trick is to never give into it.

Anonymous said...

Know you're loved and let that be enough. :)

Julie said...

The trick is knowing that just because someone did something in your past, doesn't mean a new person will do the same thing in the present. It's tricky. It's not fair to punish your current partner for something that your past partner did...at the same time you want to learn from things that happened in the past. Be gentle with your partner and be gentle with yourself. I read this quote somewhere "When someone shows you who he is, believe him." It works for the bad (if he shows you that he's a jerk, believe it, don't make excuses for him) and the good (if he shows you that he's not like your ex, believe him). I like that one a lot. It's simple and reminds me that everyone is different.

Anonymous said...

I think you should enjoy each day that you have with Billy and stop thinking so much of "what could happen or what HAS happened......" Cherish what you HAVE and let it be!