I think the worst part of a breakup is coming to terms with one’s shortcomings. In the past, I have willingly brushed these off as incompatibilities, or as another’s biased view of me, one that I could explain away if only they would listen.
But now, looking back, I was a dick, and didn’t listen as a manner of self-defense. I thought that, because I treated people well as individuals, I was immune to criticism. “I’m well-liked,” I thought, “why should I change? I should just find more people who think I’m great!” Even though I’ve always had a great respect for the complexity of life, I haven’t quite grasped the complexity of human interactions, and I’ve acted as though I should only be judged for what I do directly to people.
I’ve never had issues with anger, outright belittlement, or other sociopathic red flags. However, I’ve cheated, I’ve lied, I’ve told people what they want to hear, and I certainly have not acted with conviction. I was willing to write off all the above as aberrations, each caused by a faulty relationship, not caused by a guy who didn’t know himself well enough to commit to what he wants. What I thought I wanted was validation and affirmation, which I receive in spades for being a funny guy, a good listener, and reasonably symmetrical. All of those are good qualities, but to use them to obtain popularity, especially with the opposite sex, is an empty gesture that belies my often-ignored emotions.
So, I’ve started seeing a counselor. Not for any particular malady, depression, or straw-man unfairly associated with mental health, but to talk out my relationship woes and figure out what I want and how to pursue that. For so long, I have dabbled, content to take surface interest in an idea or a person, while ignoring the potential of a deeper passion, avoiding the hard work it takes to maintain a connection with someone, and constantly straying toward the new & exciting.
It’s not easy. Speaking matter-of-factly about my string of casual relationships and infidelities made me realize how I have underestimated other people’s emotions. Thinking back, I tried my hardest to make everyone happy, which normally meant avoiding my true feelings about a situation or an outright lie.
I’m sick of that shit. Opening up is not natural, but this vaguely-worded blog post is at least a start toward honesty, both with others and myself. I’d be naive to say that I know what’s going to happen, how I’ll act in 5 years, and whether or not I’ll look back on this as a moment of triumph or an outlier of my emotional state.
(To the concerned: I’m doing okay, which is the advantage of a steady mental state. I’ll still make silly jokes and default to adventure mode. However, I feel like I’m coming to a big crossroads personally and professionally, and I haven’t been fully satisfied with my life in who knows how long. So this is just me trying to open up, have some integrity, and be a well-rounded person. Basically, I’m actively trying to grow up.)