Friday, December 6, 2013

On Love

"I like you a lot. I really do. It's just, I've noticed you kind of have… situational boyfriends."

Well there that was. Ouch.

As I heard these words, I'm pretty sure I felt an actual physical pain. Gut-wrenching is probably the best way to describe it. The way you feel when you hear that something terrible has happened to a friend. When you have such high hopes for something and then those dreams get dashed in an instant. The way you feel when someone says something hurtful about you. Especially when you know, deep in your heart of hearts, that it is true.
...

As we watched a Parks and Rec episode on our retreat last week, the fictional group had a yard sale to benefit a friend who was in the hospital. One of my favorite characters (just shy of Tom Haverford), is Ann Perkins. Ann was selling boxes of things… a box full of flannel from when she dated Andy. A box full of exercise equipment from when she dated Chris. And finally, a box full of cowgirl memorabilia from the latest has-been.

You see, Ann had adopted the personalities and characteristics of the men she had dated while she was dating them. So much so that she had accumulated boxes full of things she'd worn or used to make herself seem more dateable or desirable to that particular man. Towards the end of the episode, her ex, Chris, who is also a colleague, offered to buy her "Chris" box. She politely told him that he didn't need to do that, but he did it anyway. As he walked away, he gave her some advice that struck me to my core. "Start an Ann Perkins box. She's pretty great."

I gave this example to a dear friend this morning, who, not-so-coincidentally, is totally boyfriend-material. He said, "you get that involved with a guy that you change?" No, I don't think I do. I'm a little too stubborn for that. But if we're self-diagnosing here, I'd say my problem is worse.

My problem is that I always have to have someone. And when I have someone? There's always someone else in the background. I'm fine with commitment, as long as you know "I have a fickle heart, and a bitterness, and a wandering eye and a heaviness in my head…" (Adele)

I wish I could explain it. Of course this issue comes from deep-seeded insecurity, but I can't really explain that either. Yeah, I was bullied, and I've always been heavy for my size, etc., but I had a pretty normal childhood. My parents love me and have always treated me like an adult. I'm pretty well-adjusted, despite all the trauma and drama I went through in high school and college. And yet, it's true. I do have situational boyfriends. One could argue that every relationship in the history of the world has been situational, but I digress. It is true that I flit from relationship to relationship, from guy to guy (or girl) quite easily. Well, not easily. There is always some sort of mental breakdown involved, unless the breakup was my idea.

I try to let it always be my idea. It is much easier to break hearts than to have yours broken. That was my life philosophy until I found Jesus. Once I had a God to be accountable to, I soon realized that I'd kind of been a huge jerk to most of the people I'd dated. Up until that point, I did not care. One bit. I truly didn't care that I was hurting people. In fact, I prided myself on it. People would call me a heartbreaker and I'd just laugh. Breaking hearts and taking names, that was my business. And I was damn good at it.

While I've done my best to stop breaking hearts, I've inadvertently continued my habit of "having a backup." As you well know, I'm in the Philippines right now. I had every intention of this trip being about me. No relationships! Who the hell is Abby Kraft? FIGURE IT OUT, GIRL.

My backups are lovingly and not-so-jokingly referred to by my mother as "the list." It's pretty common practice in our house to say "another one bites the dust" when someone tells me they love me or does something nice for me. Apparently, I'm so charming that men and women are just falling all over themselves to be with me.

I am certain that I sound incredibly narcissistic right now. Unfortunately for you and for me, this is just my reality. I have never had an issue making people want me. The issue is much deeper than that. The issue is making me want them.

Ironically, I do want them! I want every single one of them and I don't want any of them to find anyone else. I'm getting to the age where my exes are starting to get engaged and married. I wish I could explain the vice grip around my chest when this happens. I've had more than one panic attack about these things. My rationale is that if they find someone else, that's one less person on my "list." That's one less backup. One less person in love with me to make me feel good when the world makes me feel bad.


Interestingly enough, the person that pointed out my "situational boyfriends" also once said these words to me: "I fall a little bit in love with every person I meet." I thought it was beautifully put, and a quite accurate description of myself. I do, admittedly, fall a little bit in love with every person I meet. Some less than others and some far, far more than others, but a little bit with everyone. I see beauty in everyone. I see their souls and I do my best to see the good in them. I'm also a "fixer" and tend to see beauty in people that need to be fixed or helped. It has taken me 23 long years to learn that not everyone can be fixed, but more importantly, not everyone wants to be.

Yes, I fall in love with everyone. I also fall in love easily, and without fear. Without fear because I know that I won't truly commit to them. Sure, we may have a FB relationship, but that doesn't mean I only have eyes for that one person.

My words may sound harsh to you. Especially if you're reading this and we've dated (or you thought you might want to date me at some point). All I ask, though, is that you imagine how much harsher they are for me. Imagine how hard it is for me to realize this about myself. Imagine how hard it is for me to publish it on the internet, free for your ridicule, criticism, or worse… for you to fall out of love with me for it.

Imagine how hard it is for a young woman who so deeply wants to get married and have a family to acknowledge that she may never be able to get married. This ailment of mine- this being in love with everyone- it is crippling. Because if I truly love someone, all of them, their whole soul, I could not in good conscience promise to only have eyes for them for the rest of my life. It's just not my personality. It's just not me. 


I'm trying my hardest to start my own Ann Perkins box. An Abby Kraft box, just for me. To figure out who I am without any backups. To figure out why I'm here on this earth. I've been told many times that I am here to love. But how can I accept that, when this free-flowing love has caused so much hurt in my life?

During our retreat, I scribbled on the back of a postcard: "I will not let others define me or determine my worth." So here I am, baring my soul to you, knowing people will be offended by this. But I need to start finding my worth inwardly. From myself. From the God I'm here to serve. Here I am. I'm trying to love me. It's okay if you don't.

...

I just wanna be okay, be okay, be okay
I just wanna be okay today
I just wanna be okay, be okay, be okay
I just wanna be okay today
I just wanna feel today, feel today, feel today
I just wanna feel something today
I just wanna feel today, feel today, feel today
I just wanna feel something today

Open me up and you will see
I'm a gallery of broken hearts
I'm beyond repair let me be
And give me back my broken parts

I just wanna know today, know today, know today
I just wanna know somethin today
I just wanna know today, know today, know today
Know that maybe I will be okay

Open me up and you will see
I'm a gallery of broken hearts
I'm beyond repair let me be
And give me back my broken parts

Just give me back my pieces
Just give them back to me, please...
Just give me back my pieces
And let me hold my broken parts.
I just wanna be okay, be okay, be okay
I just wanna be okay today
I just wanna be okay, be okay, be okay
I just wanna be okay today
I just wanna feel today, feel today, feel today
I just wanna feel something today
I just wanna know today, know today, know today
I just wanna know somethin today
I just wanna know today, know today, know today
Know that maybe I will be okay
Know that maybe I will be okay….

-Ingrid Michaelson, Be OK


2 comments:

  1. This is powerful and honest writing. This describes someone I WAS married to in a previous life.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Tim Mcgraw - Red Ragtop

    ReplyDelete