Thursday, September 14, 2006

Seek and Destroy

"She does not trust him. After all this time, she still thinks he's doing something deceitful. She goes through his pockets, his phone, his car. She's always searching."

"For what?"

"For something. For proof that he's unfaithful. Or bored. I don't know."

"Of all people, you'd think she'd be secure. I mean, she's gorgeous and driven, and he's just head over heels for her. Seriously, I look at the two of them and think I hope Billy and I are like that. I had no idea she was worried."

He shook his head slowly, disbelieving, looking at the table in front of him. "No. I don't know why either. But it must drive him crazy."

"It must drive her crazy. How can you live like that? Always wondering, always suspicious, always checking up on him? I would go mad."

I said it like I've never done it before. Oh, but I have. I've made sure to not call before heading to a boyfriend's house, hoping, almost, to pull up and bear witness to a strange car in the driveway, or, worse, to catch him in the act of something. I've gone through drawers, I've surveyed rooms for slight changes that only women would notice; a hint of perfume on the sheets, earrings on a nightstand, unfamiliar undergarments. I've done it all.

But I think, as women, we all reach a point where we decide Enough. Enough searching and worrying and wondering and overthinking. We're so terrified of being made a fool, that we seek to destroy that chance before it happens. But all of that seeking and searching only ends up destroying our relationships, our sanity. If we find nothing, we think he's just good at covering his tracks. And we nit-pick and take shots and try to catch him in lies. And in the end, after behavior like that, not only have you made him miserable and crazy, but you've driven yourself to the brink of insanity.

So, eventually, we just make that choice to stop. We make a conscious effort to just trust.

Which, though it sounds easy and like something that should just be understood in a relationship, can be quite difficult. We're all prisoners of our past. Or I know I am, anyway. I don't know that I was cheated on before, but I thought I was. And I cried and dug around and convinced myself I was the victim of infidelity without any proof. It was because he didn't pay enough attention to me, wasn't interested enough in my life, didn't care enough to make time for me. Instead of just assuming he wasn't the right kind of person for me, I thought he was unfaithful. Certainly, if he's not spending his time on me, he's spending it on someone else. And I remember that feeling, that worry, creeping through my thoughts all day long, invading my conversations, permeating whatever mood I was in. He could be cheating right now, and I'd never know it. And so the investigation would begin.

I fought that urge getting into my new relationship. I had grown so accustomed to having tons of free time in my last relationship, that I was fine with the fact that sometimes Billy traveled for work. And I was okay with the fact that I had a huge chunk of time during the day when I couldn't see him. I had grown comfortable with having my own time. But it was a conscious effort to not take that free time as neglect, as it had been before.

I don't call Billy a thousand times a day. I rarely call him, reticent to bother him while he's at work. More often than not, if we speak during the day, it is my phone ringing with his phone call or text message. And that's okay with me. Entering our relationship, I decided that badgering him would only drive him away... I'd just let him be who he was, and if it worked, it worked. Well, it worked, and here we are, just over a year later.

But, still, after all of my professions to be a hands-off and trusting girlfriend, sometimes, my innate feminity gets the better of me. I disregard the fact that every second he's not at work he's with me, and I instead focus on the remote possibility that he could be doing anything while he's "at work." I second guess and self doubt, and before I know it, I'm toying with the idea of digging my way through his belongings.

Why? I don't know. Because I believe, with every bit of me, that he loves me. And I believe that if he were tired of my company, he'd tell me so. And I believe that he loves and respects me enough to not betray my trust in him. I believe all of those things, all the time. But, periodically, I forget.

And it's at that point where I stop. I realize I'm making myself sick over, literally, absolutely nothing. And it's right there were I make that choice. To trust. Because it's hard when you've been crushed, when you hear stories of other people's betrayal at every turn, or when you're feeling a bit insecure. And you forget that trusting someone is a choice to make. I can trust him, or I can not. But if I choose not to, then what am I doing here, anyway?

Maybe I do need therapy. Maybe I need a life coach. Maybe I need to remember that I have no control over the way things will pan out anyway. I didn't even know who I was anymore by the time my last relationship ended. And, this time, I have to remember that at the core of everything is belief. Belief in him, belief in us, belief in myself and making that choice to trust him. He's never given me a reason to doubt him. So why do it?

"I think she's just afraid to lose him," he said, trying to offer some reason for our mutual friend's actions.

"But why?"

"Because she loves him."

I'm afraid to lose Billy, too. But I'm more afraid of losing myself again.


anno said...

Great post! It sounds like you have learned a lot over the last several years.

steph said...

That is a strong choice to make. Some people are so afraid of being alone that they would change to be anything the other person wanted them to be. Or like you said go off the deep end with worry. It doesn't change with marriage either, you still choose to trust. Love is a choice you make every day, even if you do not like the person you still love them. Awesome thoughts.

Liz said...

Laurie- Alot of what you said in this post reminded me of a person I use to be. It was a version of myself that I am not proud of and every once in awhile it rears its ugly head.

Thanks for the reminder that I have come a long way. Great post.

Tiffany said...

Awesome post. People (girls in particular) would always be amazed that I wasn't the jealous type. I even have one girlfriend who regularly asks me how come I don't go through my boyfriend's cell phone and such... My response was always "no reason". But really you are right. It's a choice, a decision. And if I ever felt it so strongly that I couldn't make that choice easily I'd know I was with the wrong man.

Keeping your identity in a relationship is difficult too but also a decision you make every day. The right guy will make it easy on you. I was with the wrong guy before also but now? I guess no one who knows me would say my identity is lost to Ryan! We are definity still individuals... It makes me sad to see people morphing into one coupled identity. Especially when they are my friends and I loved them individually before. I don't know if that even made sense... :) I think you'll get what I meant!

Anonymous said...

Men notice little subtle changes when thier woman is cheating too.

Cheetarah1980 said...

How did I miss this post. Love the title, love the post even more. The strength in your writing is the honesty. You put it all out there and I can't help but feel you. With so many men, I've had the same feeling, even in the absence of any sort of evidence. Any minute not spent with me was always "idle" time for him to do evil things. It didn't help that I had (and still have) a tendency to get involved with men who live states away from me. It also didn't help that I had friends constantly telling me, "He could be doing anything and you'd never know." With the last guy/most recent/current (who knows depending on the day) I never got that feeling. For the first time I knew a man wanted me and only me. But then I started fear us. Who he is, who I am. And I just knew that who we are would get in the way of us. I was right. But I'm starting to think I made it happen, and now I'm trying to figure out how to make it un-happen. Anyways, great post. It hit a nerve, for real.