What's it like to go through life after your partner leaves you?
It was once told to me that everyone’s greatest fear isn’t of public speaking, being naked, or even death; it’s not being good enough.
Not good enough for… a friend, a family member, a spouse/partner, yourself, your job, hell, even life. It’s such a deep-seeded fear in many of us that (and now I’ll speak only on my own experience) I have done whatever I can, throughout my life, to get out of that particular feedback loop.
A few years ago, I thought I had broken that loop for good. I was in an amazing relationship with a man that talked about marrying me and having a life with me. Everything else was a little, well, derpish, but it didn’t matter because life has always thrown me shit. At least this time I had ONE bright spot-- this unconditional love that was reciprocated in a way that warmed my cold heart on even the chilliest of Los Angeles nights (which is only about 40 degrees, but that’s really fucking cold for LA so get off my back, geez).
And then one late night, after my friends' wedding, we had an argument (it was Friday the 13th, after all) and he was done. Just like that. Done.
In the passing months, I found out that he had been done months prior to that argument; but because he knew how bad life had been for me he just wanted to “give me something good for awhile”-- those were his exact words. Ouch, right? He didn’t just leave me high and dry, he left me for another woman (to whom he is now engaged to, so… good luck, fuckers). It honestly makes me furious whenever I think about how easy he was able to move on, as if I just didn’t matter at all. That’s how it looks, right? He’s engaged, he has a great side career, he’s getting actual acting jobs now, and he still looks like Jon Hamm had a baby with Prince Eric. What an asshole.
To say I was devastated is entirely too calm. I was destroyed. I was “drive home drunk because I don’t want to live anymore” destroyed; “dye my hair brown and adopt a cat” destroyed; “my brother from another mother that I lived with continuously picking me up off the floor to cradle me and cry with me” destroyed; “slip back into disordered eating and lose 20lbs” destroyed; “attempt to kill myself”... destroyed.
I quietly (I wasn’t quiet) slipped further down the rabbit hole/negative feedback loop of “I’m not good enough”, because the man I thought was my person decided I was no longer good enough. That’s how I saw it for a long time, and to be honest, the seed of that is buried so deep within my heart that I will always hold some belief in that thought.
I have friends that constantly tell me I don't need a man and they're right-- I don't. However, there's something incredibly validating in having a partner. It's as if you both know you're a bit fucked up and you recognize that in each other but decide to love and accept the person anyways. It's like saying, "Hey, we've both got this thing, but let's help each other through it. Cool? Cool."
The particular fear of not being good enough hits everyone, but it hits some of us harder and then everything we do plays into that loop. A loop, after all, is a circle and that will forever be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Not being good enough plays out in every job, every relationship, every moment of my being. If it was present before HIM, it’s a downright state of being now and I do everything I can to push against it and fight back. Let me tell you, that’s exhausting.
Being stupidly self-aware (truly, it’s a gift, but a giant curse at the same time) I am always on the hunt to dissect my own behavior and figure out WHY DO I DO THIS. The “not good enough” seeds certainly started in my childhood and then were cemented when I was sexually assaulted as a teenager by the older guy who I liked and only wanted the kind of attention an underaged person should receive-- gentle affirmation. Instead, I was shown that all I was worth was my body and who I was was not enough. I knew that because I was casually tossed aside each and every time I had an “encounter” with the man who is currently a teacher and has children and I have to live with that every day of my life. I live with it, because I thought it was all my fault. So, there you go.
Because of this, I’ve sought after men who only affirm that I am not good enough; and, to be honest, I still do. Apathy is what I know to be “love” and the only person that changed that for me was HIM and since HE threw me away… is what I have to offer even any good? Who on earth could love someone like me?
See how that plays out?
So, what is it like to go through life after a partner discards you? Well, it’s been almost three years and I, no joke, I want to die every day. Not because of HIM anymore. Fuck that guy. But because my brain chemistry has been altered in a way that I don’t understand. Pills worked for a minute, but then they didn’t, so I stopped taking them a long time ago. Therapy is wonderful though. Huge advocate for therapy!
I spend my days searching for the things that will bring me joy, because I need as many reasons to stay alive as humanly possible. Sadly enough, many of the things that bring me joy are things it seems I cannot have-- my career (doors don’t open), a love life (I can’t let men pursue me because it’s scary for me to give up control all because some asshole took that from me when I was 16), and even a fucking sex life because who I want doesn’t want me back. What’s crazy is that I keep trying, too. That’s how badly I’m trying to stay alive, but with every rejection, I’m more worse for ware.
Not. Good. Enough.
I search for jobs where I can be happy while I make money. I leave them if I’m unhappy and this makes me look flippant. In truth, I’m just trying not to die, you guys. I’m doing everything I can. However, in the moments in between work, I want to die, so it’s really a game of “which is going to make me not feel worse”?
When I’m up, I’m up and I ride that wave with the expertise of a champion surfer. When I’m down, I’m so down, but incredibly functional so you’ll only know if I tell you, winky face.
When you’re “not good enough” the masks you wear to cover up the massive amounts of fear, shame, depression, and anger become so thick that you are unrecognizable to yourself. You’re trying to convince not just everyone around you, but also yourself, that you belong.
But the truth is, I don’t feel like I belong… anywhere.
I’m sure there are only about two people reading this, but I don’t want to leave you two with the thought “Oh, she’s a victim”. I reject that. I’m not a victim. I have been one, yes, but I’m not anymore. I’m actively participating in life and working at it really hard. When you’re not good enough (read: DEPRESSION) everything is harder and most people don’t get it. You can literally do everything right to try and “fix” it, but it doesn’t work. In fact, the more you push, the worse it is. Seriously, just look at my fucking love life after HIM. Woof.
And that’s why I chase the moments of joy when I find them. You keep going, you keep trying to find meaning in the mundane and excitement in the calm. Life slows down for a long time, but when you decide to get back onto the rollercoaster of it… you’re still going to throw up. It’s a fucking roller coaster, you guys, and I have really bad motion sickness.