I have this irrational fear that everyone I love the most will one day leave me. And some part of me - a part that waxes and wanes - believes that I deserve to be alone. That I don’t deserve happiness.
Sorry for the TMI right here, but this is the best example I can think of.
Making love with my partner. Let’s just say that I have never had any problems with sexual pleasure…at all. In the least. I know that’s somewhat rare, and I don’t take it for granted. But one of the most recent times we’ve made love, I ended up curled into a ball afterwards in tears - not a panic attack, thank God, but the belief that my pleasure was undeserved and that I was somehow robbing him of joy.
I know, in my head, that sex is about mutual pleasure, enjoying one another’s body and enjoying one another’s enjoyment. But somehow, that particular time, I felt so unbelievably guilty. Guilty for being happy. Guilty for accepting his love - something I feel so deeply that I do not deserve.
Maybe it’s the teaching I’ve gotten from so many sources that if I’m not good enough in bed or keep my partner sexually satisfied that he’ll leave me for someone else. My mom has actually told me to have sex with him even when I’m suffering tremendous PTSD lest I “lose” him. (To his credit, when I finally worked up the courage to tell him that, he was FURIOUS with her.)
And maybe it’s the questions Mom would ask me throughout my childhood whenever a friend would invite me to their house. “Are you sure they want you there? Are you sure they want to be friends with you?”
That always hurt me so badly. But she was right a lot of times. So many “friends” would let me know in myriad ways that they were better than me and spent time with me only out of pity. Like a childhood best friend who told me that I ought to be grateful for her friendship, because it was only by her popularity that I was no longer tormented in class.
And you know what? She was right - because when she decided that she didn’t want to be friends with me anymore, she instigated games. Games like, “Who can make Stitch angry first?” There were always 4 or 5 players in these games. Doesn’t sound like much - but when you’re in a class of 25, and those 4 or 5 players are the people you’ve spent the past several years believing were the only people in that class who didn’t hate you…well. And when I’d inevitably crack - screaming and running away, or collapsing into a heap in tears - she’d merely laugh and revel in her victory.
Or another friend who invited me to her birthday party in sixth grade…I was so excited. And she didn’t seem happy for me to be at her party, but I couldn’t understand - she’d invited me. Then someone told me that her mom made her invite me so I wouldn’t feel left out.
Not to mention Ann.
And a handful of dearest friends from my old church camp who stopped talking to me when I went to BJU.
And Daniel - who had been my steadfast friend throughout my difficulty with Peter, who talked to me every single day I was at BJU, who grounded me and convinced me that despite the first years of our acquaintance when he wouldn’t stoop to converse with me that he now was the most faithful friend I had - he even stopped talking to me when I got married against his advice.
So when my partner tells me he loves me, he enjoys me, he’s happy with me, he wants to be with me, there’s always part of me that says, “But one day, you’ll get sick of me. And you, too, will leave.”
And there are friends that I have now who have never left me. But my fear is the same with them as it is with my partner. I’m too needy. I’m too clingy. I’m too self-absorbed.
I’m terrified that I deserve to be alone.
But I’m trying so very hard to reject that fear, reject that notion, and really honestly trust that perhaps I’m not the hideous creature that I think I am. That perhaps my partner believes in commitment every bit as much as I do (and when I put it like that, OF COURSE I know that he does).
I am not a sickness. I am not a disease!
I’m just so afraid that I am.