Comparison is the Devil.
It’s Valentine’s day today. This is a holiday I have had a lifelong hatred of. The hearts and the super cute factor of it, even as a kid, made me want to dry heave. I always liked the chocolate that I got, but hated anything heart shaped. Even as a kid, when we had to give out those little card to everyone in class, my mom would have to physically force me to sign them I protested every year, and once I finally got past the age where we had to do it, I felt so relieved. As an adult, there is an onslaught of the sweetness of this holiday, from television to conservations to Facebook, it’s everywhere. I don’t feel happy about it. I just feel like I’ll end up with diabetes from exposure to the over-saturated sweetness of this day. I think what really irks me now is seeing the posts that people made on social media. It’s so easy to sit and feel badly about yourself by seeing what they have and you seem to lack. The love that is proclaimed on this day is, to me, really sickening. I never seemed to understand why we have to have just one day to proclaim our love for someone. Isn’t that something we should do every day? Not just with grand gestures once a year, but with smaller gestures, actions and words that show it everyday.
Naturally, I woke up this morning feeling crabby. I didn’t even realize it was Valentine’s until I checked my phone and then made the realization of “God damn, not today!” It put me in a bad mood for no real reason. I went about with my routine, checking email and Facebook (I spent way too much time on there) and the first few posts showed nothing to do with the holiday. Then, for several scrolls that’s all it was. People waking up to heart shaped food, people getting flowers and gifts and other people proclaiming their love for their partner. I could feel the bile start to rise in my throat. I’m unattached, and most of the time, it doesn’t bother me. I’ve not found someone who I would want to be with, and I’m okay with it (most of the time.) I don’t have a need for it at this particular moment. I’m figuring my own stuff out and working on fighting off my demons. Which is where I need to be. So why does it bother me so much? Why does this one day drive me insane?
I think it forces my brain to delve into those insecurities that I like to ignore. I’ve taken to calling them the “nots.” Those stupid things my brain launches into my thoughts, sometimes randomly. The you’re not good enough, not smart enough, not worthy enough. Those things that I’m beginning to see aren’t true, but when you’ve been riding that tilt-a-whirl for so long, it’s hard to come off of it and not have some kind of whiplash. I’m starting to get off the ride, and I’m experiencing the whiplash already. I can feel those “nots” breathing down the back of my neck. It doesn’t mean that they are front and center all the time, but they definitely are an active part of my life. I don’t want them, I don’t believe that anyone would want that. We should love each other and love ourselves. It’s something that sounds so easy, but at least for me, it’s harder to put into practice. I love people, and have had great luck with having amazing friends who are nothing but supportive, and I hope that I am able to reciprocate that. That’s a love that I need very much. The romantic kind has never been my forte. It makes me anxious at best, and at worst, it’s a horrible thing that goes through my brain. I delude myself into thinking I don’t deserve it, and while being aware of it is good, it doesn’t really help the problem. I have an easier time putting my attention on people I know I genuinely don’t have a shot in hell with.
I set myself up for disappointment down the road, but honestly sometimes that’s easier than running the risk of being open with someone. In my mind, I’d rather reach for the unattainable, then I can keep the course I’m on. I can keep my heart protected, and not have to worry about pain. To keep that hardened heart locked away in a cage, because then I’m safe. I’m able to continue to live. I can survive that way. It’s kept me going this far, it can’t be a horrible way to go is it?
Truth is it’s nothing more than a giant chunk of bullshit I feed myself. At a young age I adapted it because it seemed like a good way to keep some of the pain at bay, to avoid further pain and to avoid feeling abandoned again. There is no way to truly protect yourself from pain. It doesn’t work that way. All I’ve done is keep myself from experiencing that part of life. Maybe that means that if I can have a moment of clarity (really pulling my head out of my ass) I can enjoy it when it comes. I’m not looking for it, but I can only hope that someday it will. I just have to be ready for it when it comes. Despite all of that, it’s not to say that it couldn’t work out with those people, but when you spend half your time thinking that you’re just a worthless piece of shit, doesn’t really bode well for much does it?
So here I sit comparing myself to people on Facebook, which honestly I think many of us are guilty of. It’s so easy to look at what people post, and think “God they have an amazing life! They have it all!” The truth is that what we see is so carefully constructed. We only see their highlights. We compare our messy behind the scenes to the glimmer of their highlights.
Which isn’t fair to anyone. We don’t see other people’s bad days, the moments where they breakdown, those moments of pure joy, and the tender moments they share with someone else. We don’t experience what they experience, we don’t feel what they feel. It’s easy to get lost in the idea that someone else has it so easy when we have it so hard. It’s simply not true. Everyone has moment of hardship and days when it’s easy to get through life. It’s so easy to slip into the idea that someone else is perfect, and we are just a messy slob who can’t figure it out. Which I think is part of the reason why we like to tear people apart and put them down. Maybe we are projecting false ideas and jealously onto them, maybe not. I know I’m guilty of making assumptions, and we all know what assuming makes us. (An ass of you and me.) It’s so fucking easy to listen to a song, especially a heartfelt song about love, and assume that the person who wrote it is some infallible being who’s perfectly in touch with every emotion and can always articulate themselves so beautifully. That can be the case sometimes, people can be in touch with their emotions and know how to express them, but no one is infallible. From my limited experience with songwriters, they don’t sit down and write every song in one go and it’s perfect the first time. It can take a long time and a lot of editing to reach that final version, the version that people end up hearing. The one that people can think makes them perfect. Perfection is a trickster. It doesn’t exist, but we think it does.
I think that’s a thing that many people look for in a person to share their lives with, to have a relationship. They want someone perfect who can be their other half. I’ve always hated the quote from Jerry Maguire, “You complete me.” I loved it when I was a pre-teen and could engage is the romantic notion that someone could come along and complete you as a person. I grew up with Disney and Prince Charming, which looking bad is a kind of a horrible thing to put into anyone’s head. That you have to wait around for someone else to come and make your life better, to be your other half. It’s not a horrible notion to have someone help you make your life better, and you make you be a better person, but the idea that we aren’t a whole person until we love someone else is an idea I’m not comfortable with. I had a “Zen for Dummies” book, back when I was toying around with it, and I liked what they had under relationships. “That you are a whole person, and they are a whole person. You are two whole people choosing to make a life together.” It was something along those lines. That you aren’t looking for someone to fill in your gaps, but rather that you are both two whole people beautifully flawed choosing to say I like you, I want to have a life with you. You are with them because you want to be not because you need to be. Maybe I’m detached from romantic love, and the idea of passion is nice, but I’ve read too many articles saying that the initial passion of love, that honeymoon phase isn’t going to enough to build a life. It’s great for a good time, but I’m not interested that. I’d take dedication and commitment over passion any day of the week, and it probably sounds boring, but I’d rather have a life with someone. Not a few months of fun. I don’t know if it’s a point of maturity in life, or if I just have railed against what Disney taught me as a kid, but I like the idea of genuinely wanting a life with someone else. Not because you have to. I watched my parents marriage as a kid and even now. I still don’t know if they got together because it was expected of them, or if it was something else. I do think they were dedicated, and they at least liked each other, but they ended up getting divorced. So many marriages end in divorce for a multitude of reasons, and that’s a whole other conversation, but I’m going to be selfish and say that I’m choosing to do it because I want to, not because I should. The same thing applies to having children. I don’t want to do it because I should. I want to have children because there are two of us that want them. I know I’m trying to avoid having some cycles follow through to the next generation. I spent most of my life wondering if I was loved. (I now know I am) I don’t any children I might have to question that for a minute, ever.
Maybe that’s my comparison. I’ve compared what I want to what I should do, and I’m not interested in what those should be’s are. Valentine’s Day is another should. Those subtle messages of you should be with someone, you should be in love. Don’t do it just to do it. I think that’s a stupid reason to decide to do something. Oh, Valentine’s Day, you make me irritated but at least you helped my writer’s block! Maybe you’re good for something after all.