Embrace the imperfect life

Joey Garcia

I left an eight-year relationship because of physical and emotional abuse. I fell in love with someone new fairly quickly, and got engaged. My fiancé is amazing, and our time together is magical. There’s one problem: I don’t think I deserve my life with him. Sometimes it’s a fleeting thought I can talk myself out of. About once a week, it’s a feeling that lasts hours. Every one to two months, it’s something I can’t shake for days. My fiancé tries to make me feel loved, but gets frustrated and we end up fighting. In my last relationship, I identified as stupid, careless, ugly and fat. I am still that girl. I think my fiancé is going to leave me for someone better when he figures out that I’m not who he thinks I am. I think if I were smarter or skinnier or more successful, I wouldn’t feel this way. I want my fiancé to have a happy girl and not this pathetic teary-eyed depressed person. It’s not fair to him.

The concept of fairness is introduced in preschool in an attempt to inspire sharing. But fairness doesn’t really exist. If it did, every child would begin life within the same ideal circumstances. Instead, we apply justice in order to create equity. But your dilemma is not about fairness. You’re fighting imperfection.

It’s a lie that we can inoculate ourselves against abandonment by achieving perfection. Actually, it’s a lie we can achieve perfection, at least as you’ve defined it. It’s an even bigger lie that we must be perfect to be loved. Here’s the truth: The emptiness you feel cannot be healed by your man’s love. The only way to transform your mood swings is to accept them, and yourself. Self-love is the experience of embracing everything we are: the weak, insecure, troubled, fearful self and the thoughtful, appreciative, beautiful, playful, smart self. Each one of us is a complicated mix of qualities. Life offers constant opportunities to act from our best selves, rather than from our wounds. As you have discovered, it’s really difficult sometimes.

It’s interesting that the pattern of your mood swings mimics the roller coaster ride of an abusive relationship. One minute you’re up, the next minute you’re down. Sometimes it’s exhilarating and other times, it’s excruciating. It’s the same push-pull that you faced in your previous relationship, isn’t it? The problem may actually be an addiction to the adrenaline rush of emotional roller coasters. Consider this: The rush of nearly losing your man, followed by the rush of saving the relationship, produces a chemical template in your body. The more often you ride that roller coaster, the more often the body seeks to replicate the experience because it craves the chemical rush. So when your fiancé tries to placate you with the right combination of words, or by buying flowers and gifts, he inadvertently intensifies the rush. Yes, that means your brain translates his loving kindness as a reward for sliding into depression.

The solution, in part, is for you to stop arguing with reality. Don’t think you deserve your man? That’s a perception rooted in fantasy. This is reality: He’s in your life. And this is a skewed perception of yourself: stupid, fat, careless, ugly. This is reality: You, like all of us on the planet, are sometimes stupid and sometimes smart, sometimes careless and sometimes careful. Your thoughts are sometimes ugly and sometimes beautiful. When your thoughts are weighing you down, you are overweight. Do you understand? Healing begins with you evolving into a version of yourself that is engaged with reality. Begin now, before you wed. You deserve to enter marriage with more freedom than you are currently capable of creating. A professional counselor or psychologist can help.

Meditation of the week
“As a body, everyone is single. As a soul, never,” wrote Hermann Hesse. Have you embraced the paradox of being an individual and yet, inexorably connected to all that is?

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