I know a married couple who once told me their story. The short of it was that she moved into his apartment one day and never left. Really, she just wouldn’t leave. So they made a go of it. There was love, but in telling me this story, they both laughed and giggled because by all accounts, she decided for both of them that this was it. And it was.
And here I am at the end of a difficult year in a quasi-relationship with someone because I simply refused to leave. But I don’t have a peace about it. Because I want this to be a mutual decision. I push him for a decision, for a commitment. He says that no matter what he does, it will not be enough for me. And I realize that there is some truth to this.
It is not enough for him to say the words, “I want you.” I want to tell him, “Say it like you mean it. Say it with conviction.” But I don’t. He would be offended by this. He’s not an emotional person and I wear my heart on my sleeve.
So what role does denial have here? The author says we need to fall out of love with denial. Denial, she explains, is a safeguard until we’re ready to accept reality.
Focus on clear thinking, she stresses. And perhaps by clear thinking, she means pushing through denial. There are things I have denied. I’ve denied his wanting to leave me months ago. I’ve denied his telling me he’s better off single, that he’s not good in a relationship. I don’t want to believe it. And yet they say to trust what another says about themselves.
I am fearful that it’s just me. If it’s me, I can fix it. If it’s my weight, I can lose it. If it’s my hair color, I can dye it. If it’s my emotions, I can suppress them. But then I diet and while I may lose, I’m still not happy. And then I dye my hair, and find I’m not really happy as a blonde. And then I suppress my emotions, and find myself feeling not closer to him–but more alone and isolated than ever, and even worse–looked upon as a sullen, melancholy, and bitter person by those who do not know.
I want to be happy.
And doing things that don’t make me happy to please others won’t ever work. Because you cannot be your best self when you’re denying that what brings you joy.
I don’t mind that I’m not a Size 2. I do not feel shame for abandoning the sugar-free diet espoused by a well-intentioned friend. I like cookies. I do not mind that I’ve dyed my hair darker, far from the bleach blonde that garnished his accolades (and still does when seen on another woman)–it severely damaged my hair and looked unnatural. I do not mind that I am emotional. I’ve found that while I can do a better job to practice self-awareness and control my emotions, crying when sad and smiling when happy and not being social when your heart simply isn’t into it is not a bad thing. In fact, suppressing one’s emotions tends to strengthen and prolong the bad feelings.
Feeling what you feel–something the author also recommends–is not unlike eating that cookie you’re craving. Eat it and be done with it. If you don’t, you’ll eat everything around it and make your hips 2″ bigger than if you had just eaten the damn cookie to begin with.
I want clear thinking. I do not want to live in denial. I need to voice my needs and wants. I want to feel desired and loved and appreciated and that he is proud of me. If he can’t, I need to stop living in denial that this is something I can change, something that I can control. Clear thinking may be that he is simply unable to do these things. And it’s not a reflection of my value or worth.
It’s simply what he is able and unable to do.
So I need to feel the feelings. I need to express my needs and wants, without concern about how they’ll be received. Be respectful, don’t harp or dwell, but don’t suppress either. And accept what he’s telling me.
And know that his decision to walk or stay is not a reflection of my worth, but his expression of what he’s capable of. And if it turns out that he finds leaving me more desirable than committing to me, is that really something to lose sleep over?