Sometimes I want to warn people that I am a ticking time bomb, a lit fuse, and dynamite in motion. I want to tell them not to get too close to me because I will hurt them, not before I hurt myself, but I will hurt them. I want to tell them I’m sorry, in advance, for the pain of being my friend. For the paranoia they will have to endure, for the sleepless nights where I won’t stop texting, when my demons take over and I accuse them of doing everything from plotting my death to fucking the President. I want to tell them that if love were enough, I would hold them still.
Jung said that fear of abandonment is a real thing. It’s not really talked about – not unless it’s in a jokey manner. I always thought my constant need to be around people was fueled by the fact I was a repressed extrovert, that my deep relationships where I poured my heart and soul into making myself the perfect person was normal. That love made you want to improve, so my improvements were normal. Right?
Eventually, you know, you can figure out that something’s not right. I think maybe I always knew. There’s something really, really wrong with me. I don’t mean a diagnosable mental disorder, but this feeling of wrongness permeates the air around me constantly. I never knew that this wasn’t the normal way to live. I always thought that my paranoia was a quirk, not something actually wrong.
Here’s the straight truth. I am paranoid. I don’t mean this in the colloquial way, where it’s an exaggeration of the word “scared.” I mean paranoid, paranoid. Like Law & Order: SVU paranoid. Like the kind of schizophrenic paranoid. I hide it well but it lurks under the surface.
You won’t know, the first three months of our relationship. I’m laid-back. It’s the honeymoon. I know you love me. I am secure in myself. I am fun to be around. This is only an illusion. I am only happy because I think that your entire world revolves around me, the way mine does around you. I have never half-loved somebody. When I love somebody, it’s all or nothing. I will love you deeper than anyone else ever will. And this will be beautiful at first – I know it will. I’ll be committed, passionate, spontaneous, upbeat, and most of all fun. I’ll be the kind of girl you see yourself marrying in fifteen years.
After our honeymoon phase, things will start to change. I’m a little less trusting. I want to know who you’re going out with. You’ll tell me you need some space; I’ll take this as a sign you no longer love me. The chick who I was best friends with a few weeks ago because she sits next to you at the office? I’ll see her as a threat. Like she’s trying to steal you away from me. I’ll convince myself she has a whole plan to take you, like you’re a fucking doll. I’ll start to see you as a puppet, but I’m not holding the strings. I’m good at hiding these feelings though, at least for a while. You’ll see me as a little more edgy, a little more nervous, but I’ll reassure you that it’s just work and stress. Nothing to do with you. Just myself.
And then you’ll do something that proves to me you no longer want to be with me. It could be something as simple as not replying to a text after reading it, but I will be triggered. And I will do one of three things: 1) Dump you, so I can hurt you before you hurt me. In the process of doing this, I will scar myself again and ruin any chance of reconciliation between us. I will insult you, degrade you, try to make your outside feel the way I feel inside. It won’t work, but I’ll become the “psycho-ex.” 2) I’ll get clingy. Like, really clingy. Like, texting you at 1 AM asking where the fuck are you and MapQuest says it takes 15 minutes and it’s been 16 and are you cheating on me and the kind of questions that you might find in an interrogation room. Any discrepancy is a sign of unfaithfulness. I’ll accuse you of loving someone more than me. I’ll question you about how much you love me and why you like me. I’ll attack the people who I think you love more than me – this will include everyone from your mother to the grocer who bags organic vegetables on 19 th Avenue. I feel unlovable at this point, so I’ll prove to you that I am lovable, in the process I am pushing you away of course. 3) I’ll assume your lack of love is my fault. I’ll do everything I can to change myself into the perfect person for you. I’ll drink until 2AM and be fun-loving and spontaneous but if you look into my eyes I will be dead inside. And you will catch this. And you will leave me.
I am paranoid. I cannot change that about myself. I can take medication that makes me a zombie, but even it cannot keep my fears at bay. It simply dulls them, along with everything else I feel. I see the world in sepia on pills. You’d think it would be beautiful, but it’s so cold I cannot stand it. I would rather live my life alone than live it on pills.
And yet. And yet.
I am sorry. And you will never read this but if by some crazy chance, you do, I am sorry. I am sorry for loving myself too little and trying so hard to keep you close. I am sorry for guilting you into staying. I am sorry for making all the choices that I wish I didn’t make. I am sorry for being the girl your mother warns you about.
I am sorry for loving you too much but I am not sorry for loving you.