When I was being poked at on Tuesday–the acupuncture session was amazing, by the way, I’ll be going weekly for a while–I was discussing some of my stressors with the acupuncturist, K. I had told her about the upcoming divorce mediation, and how my stress and emotions had kicked up since its being scheduled, and about how my migraines had ramped up to extremely frequent again, since that time. I had told her that I really didn’t want to see Mr. X, and I had given her a very, very brief background of why that was.
So, she asked me about that, about not wanting to see him, and then I clarified for her. I had been thinking about this for some time, actually. I told K, “It’s more that I don’t want him to see me.”
“That sounds like shame,” she said. “Did he shame you a lot?”
Well, yes. I suppose he did.
I was never loved for me.
That feels pretty damn shameful.
As soon as it was established that we were in a dating relationship, from the very beginning of that, he was working and pushing and pulling and trying to mold me into his image of the perfect partner. He had an image of the perfect Jewish family, and his goal was to squeeze me into it. To shave off bits and pieces of me if he must, cut off a limb or two if necessary, but he would get his perfection.
If he ever truly saw me, it was only for a brief time, at the beginning, before we were involved, or too involved. Afterward, he only saw what he wanted. He only saw himself.
He never loved me.
I poured out my very self, I made myself physically ill trying so hard to please this man who never loved me, who never even saw me.
And who I was, was never, ever good enough.
I was thinking today, wondering, if I would have been capable, physically and intellectually capable of giving him what he wanted. The answer is yes, and no.
I knew how to do what he wanted. I knew how to fold myself up to fit into his perfect little package. Partly because of my temperament, but largely because of the home I grew up in, I knew how to be a pleaser. I knew how to put myself to the side, how to brush away my own wants again, and again, and again. I knew how to push myself harder and harder. I knew how to place all the blame at my own feet.
But something in me rebelled. Something in me, from the beginning of my relationship with Mr. X, always rebelled. There was something there that refused to be cut off, that refused to be shoved into a tiny box, over and over, even while the rest of me acquiesced.
And the rest of the answer, if I would have been capable of doing it–of being the perfect Mrs. X forever, is no. No, because, it would no longer be me, because I would be lost, I would be gone. If I had stayed, if I had played that game much longer, I think I might have lost who I was for good. “I” might have been there, going through the motions, but it would not have been me, not really. I would have been truly erased, with only X’s vision of perfection in my place.
I don’t know how long it will be before I stop justifying my own choices to an invisible audience in my mind–making sure they are defensible. Choices for big and small things–my job, my music, my food, how I spend my money, how I spend my time. I had to justify so much for so long. I hope someday I will be able to let myself be.
Shame is wound that runs deep.