“You’ll admit that you’re a difficult person, right?” He asked as he sat opposite me in a long, vinyl booth at a diner in Antwerp. I remained still, brows furrowed and jaw set, looking back at him. Although I knew there was truth in his words, I would admit to nothing.
I’m not sure when it started, but over the years I’ve effectively built up walls that have prevented men in my life from truly knowing the real me. Call it a defense mechanism, or wanting to stay on top of the leader board in the game that is relationships; it seems as if I’ve hidden away the best and most vulnerable parts of myself. What shows through is the tougher, snarkier, more independent version of me. While I am all these things, the sweet in me is necessary to balance out the bite.
In his living room in Baltimore, we sat uncomfortably on the worn brown couch, rehashing things as we had time and again. There had been too many games on both ends, attempts to hurt each other. Although we always came back together over the years, it was never quite right.
“I think you’re one of those people who is really smart, and knows it, and uses it to manipulate others.” His blue eyes searched my impassive face as he spoke.
“So you think I’m a sociopath…?”
“That’s not what I’m saying.”
“But that is the definition of a sociopath,” I said matter-of-factly.
I feel myself constantly misjudged in relationships; and while the other person’s past experiences certainly shape their perception of me, my veil separating my two conflicting sides only serves to muddy the waters.
A relationship I saw as promising ended very abruptly last week. It left me with questions and regret, but the worst of what I was left with was self-doubt. Was I too flawed? Would I always be alone?
But the truth is this: the older I get, all I see and experience teaches me something new about myself. I’m an extremely independent person and haven’t committed to many long-term relationships over the years because I’m not willing to settle. I trust myself above all and respect my judgement and understand the things that make me fundamentally me. I have quirks, talents, vices, and bad habits. But through all of that, one thing remains: I am who I am.
I’ve had a hard time accepting his explanations, insisting that he doesn’t know the real me and that he really never tried. In reality, none of that matters. Someone who was right for me would accept me for all the things I am, both negative and wonderfully positive. I deserve that. And I have a lot to give in return.
My mom, always there with the right words, made a silly but strangely spot-on analogy to describe the kind of person I am.
“You can’t be with a guy who wants a white bread girl. You’re the kind of bread with the pieces of jalapeño in it.”
At the time, she said it to try to make me laugh through my tears. And though I couldn’t quite muster it then, I’m chuckling now as I write it. I’m blessed to have loved ones who remind me that I am truly the sum of all my parts and not just the more difficult ones.